What stuff have you given up?

I don’t know at what age I discovered LEGOs, but I remember being enamored by these pieces that allowed you to create entire worlds.

When I was young I played by myself a lot. Not much has changed in that I’ve always enjoyed solitude and the opportunity to explore my imagination uninterrupted. I played with everything from barbies to matchbox cars to shoeboxes. I could sit for hours in our basement imagining entire universes on the 8x12 rug I was playing on.

Last week I was hit with an overwhelming need to start a creative project. Beyond writing, which I’ve honestly let fear hold me back from doing lately, I felt this desire to physically make something with my hands. And instead of giving into my impulse to shake it off, I spent a few days sitting with the feeling, exploring its roots and brainstorming the antidote.

That’s when I came across this interview with astrophysicist and author Janna Levin. The first question the interviewer asks is, “How did you manage to become both an astrophysicist and a writer?” to which Janna responds:

I’m more surprised people become only one or the other. All kids are scientists, and all kids are artists. They all read. How is it that we give up such big things? That’s the question if you ask me. I just didn’t give stuff up.

Her response hit a nerve, so much so that it took me several minutes before I could continue reading the interview.

I just didn’t give stuff up.

So how is it that we give up such big things?

Shortly after reading the interview I decided that — among other things I have yet to discover — building things with my hands was something I’d given up. In an attempt to remember the parts of me I’ve forgotten, I have given myself permission to indulge in any creative exercise that comes to mind over the next few weeks… starting with building this two-story “Toy and Grocery Shop” with 466 pieces of LEGOs.

My masterpiece.

My masterpiece.

Who knows what will be next.


If you know where I can donate my LEGO set when I’m done exploring, I’d love a recommendation!