“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
It is hard to explain how much my brother and I loved Legos as children. Both of us had our difficulties as kids, but in our bedroom, with a sea of bright blocks the colors of our imaginations’ prism, we built a world of dreams. Neighborhoods, castles and aircraft carriers drifted from make-believe to reality in our tiny world of blocks. For all that was wrong in the world, for all the fears and pains of our sometimes difficult childhood, everything was soft and safe in that magical world.
I was never as good as my brother at much of anything, and the construction of Legos using instructions was no exception. He in my young eyes seemed like a god of indecipherable processes. The mystery of how, from a first block to final, seemed to always make sense to him. And soon his hours of toil would produce by a process of what I was sure was divine inspiration an exact replica of the box’s colorful pirate ship or hilltop hideout.
I would try, but my sets would never come together in quite that same perfect fashion. It is funny that all these years later I still remember how sharp that failure dug into me. But my brother, because even as a child had eyes that saw the softness and pain of others, would soon break those perfectly constructed sets and add one block after the other to the laundry baskets that our mother had set aside for our Legos.
Then they became a part of the world of dreams of my heaven where anything was possible, and I could dream and build a world to get lost in. We could make anything. We could build, block by block, laugh and play and simply see what we made. Our dreams did not need to be moored and tied – they could grow with the size of our hopes and imaginations.
I have lived so much of my life like I still been still been building with the blocks of my youth, with hopelessly complex images in front of me. I know what life is supposed to be like at 34, what people expect of me, what expectations I am supposed to have of myself. That became so ingrained in me that long after others had stopped pressing their expectations on me, I started to create my own designs to fail. I have lived so very much of my life like there is some way I am supposed to be built – and that I just can’t make myself look like the pictures on the boxes.
For some of us, those walls and bars of expectations trap us because we are capable of meeting those things that are asked and demanded of us. For my brother, his prison was his ability to be what my parents wanted him to be. For me, my prison was knowing that I could never be what they wanted.
There is no instruction book for our lives. We somehow learn that our lives are supposed to be like a puzzle to be solved. Some of our goals and our walls we build ourselves – carving hard borders around our dreams or our fears. Some are pressed into us even when we do not want them.
It has taken me so much life to understand that I don’t have to build from someone else’s instruction, someone else’s dream. I don’t even have to build from my own. Instead, I can take those pieces and if I choose, simply start building and see what dreams may come. I might even find that I can build a life more beautiful than I could ever have dreamed. I can be that child who sat in that room with my brother and filled my life with hopes and dreams. I can see that my dreams are more about who I am with and how we can dream together, than about what we build. I know in the end that my hopes, my dreams and my imagination will make a life more beautiful than I had ever imagined. I can be inspired by the dreams of another whom I care about, and end up running a “Turkey Trot” years after I had given up on sport being part of life I could build.
You are the architect of your life. And it is a wonderful thing to have goals. But God has created you to be who you are. Nobody else gets to tell you what life to build, what is beautiful and what is worth giving the precious gift of our time. The question then in this new world is what will you dream and who will you – with all the love and hope of this world and the one to come – dream and build it with?
In Christ and with Love,