Born to Build: The Joy of Learning Through Trial and Error

We are all born to build things, in one way or another.  For some of us, it’s being unable to pass a set of Legos without fiddling with the blocks, or being unable to resist the urge to throw just one more spice into the soup. 

For me, it’s making art, even if it’s a cruddy watercolor I painted on the beach while watching the kids or a surreptitious sketch of a stranger at Starbucks while waiting for a client to show up.  As a formally-trained fine artist, I have to chuckle that my most prolific medium these days is PowerPoint.  As much as I love to write stories in .ppt format, it’s not nearly enough to satisfy the craving.

Madebyhand Mark Frauenfelder’s book Made by Hand confirms my suspicion.  Building tangible things fulfills a primal need:  learning by making our own mistakes.   

Kids do it every day because they lack the fear of failure.  How freeing to be able to make missteps as an adult, learning (and hopefully laughing!) along the way..

Note:  in the midst of drafting this post, I was forced to put the principles of the book in action. My laptop OS died a miserable death and I had to reformat my primary drive and rebuild it from scratch.  

It wasn’t my definition of a good time, but it could have been a lot worse, and in the process, I rediscovered my inner geek, the one who used to rollback to DOS 2.1 when a DOS 3.0 install didn’t take, and lamented the day my command line went away.

It was a great feeling to switch from automatic to manual, and to feel as if I was fully capable of controlling my own computing destiny (after a litany of missteps, of course).  The only difference between these days and my DOS days is that it would have been impossible to do the installs & updates without using my backup laptop alongside to pull up online documentation, Microsoft tech notes and support threads...