Apr 1, 2013


Someone presents you with a big hunk of wood and tools and tells you to cut it into a thousand little building blocks: the chance to make something spectacular that will last. Something big. You think up an entire civilisation even as you lay out the wood; you draw up the language and the culture; you breathe in life.

You take your pencil and saw. A compass. A ruler. You don't have glue to stick the blocks together, but it's okay; you're sure it will last. You draw out an intricate web of shapes, every shape you can think of. You have the blocks to make a bridge somewhere in there, and a chapel and a war memorial. You spend an entire afternoon sawing the wood, but that's just the beginning.

Each block is a person. Each block is chiselled, your face millimetres away from the wood; you're determined to make it perfect. Every surface is sanded. Now you take your graver and carve out little deigns on each block. Each block has a character now. It looks just like a professional set - that's how much effort you spend trying to create this city of wood. All in the hope that it will eventually be just like how you've envisioned it in your head.

You lay all your blocks out in the field, because you're building a city. You only have a few regular-shaped blocks, because you spent so much time making each one unique, so you don't have normal-looking apartments; you have fantastical skyscrapers and mountains and castles. Extravagant. You need to plan where every block goes, because you've only got one of each. You love each like your own child.

Five hours into your masterpiece you take a step back and look. It's only partially done, but the most beautiful stage is now, where you're still left to imagine the finished product. It will take years, and you're thinking of adding on some paint, but it's okay. It takes a lot of effort and time, but it'll be worth it. It'll be worth it.

But you remember you don't have glue.

Before you know it a gust of wind hits the field and there it all goes in an instant. An incoherent mess.

You know that pang in your heart. You know that pang you feel when you've spent time and effort on something, mixed with truckloads and truckloads of hope and love, and your half-finished masterpiece decides to flop. But you won't admit your pain to anyone, because what were you doing playing with wood and blocks anyway? No one will know that sense of attachment you grew to it, and they will think you're silly. You forgot the glue, anyway. You couldn't expect it to last; circumstance is king.

Yeah, they say you can still keep the remnants and look back at once was with some fondness, maybe try to create something again on a smaller scale. But you know what? You'd rather just leave it and pretend it never happened. Just walk away. It hurts less that way.

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