When I was a child, I had this habit of building imaginary worlds and systems for said worlds. It’s safe to say every kid does this in some manner, but I was near obsessive with it. If I was disturbed during one of my creation sessions, I’d get agitated and throw a tantrum. I’d lie on my stomach for hours placing whatever toys I had in front of me in spots within my field of reach and vision. Lining up the dinosaur figurines into herds or packs based on what they ate. Army men given their orders under my leadership…
It amused my parents to no end as well. These systematic worlds created by me, but not for me. I was a clock-maker god of these worlds. I would set them up, but let the dinosaurs and soldiers make their own decisions. At least as far as my imagination would allow at the time.
My parents every now and again enjoy teasingly asking me what happened to that child, as to them I appear so laissez-faire about organization in my life. The quiet child that sat in a corner for several hours, muttering to himself. I’ve just replaced the habit of building worlds with toys with building worlds with words. Not too drastic a change. The teasing question still pops up from time to time though, and while reminiscing of past antics, one question they told me they’d frequently ask was…
“What are you building today?’
While shedding the habit of world building and becoming more engaged with others and the work required by public schooling as you age, that question became dormant, only to resurface years later. After all these years, what is it that’s prompting this question to the forefront of my mind?
In the time I have spent working for this store, I have been propelled by a roller coaster of experiences and emotions into asking myself “What am I trying to build now?” on a daily basis. This is not a venting session about Walmart or its practices. A quick internet search can yield the stories of what it’s like working there on an associate level. But, working there has been a powerful lesson in what I want out of life. Before I was drifting aimlessly with no real goals or progress to show for it. This was all pre-pandemic as well. Add that fire on top of a crumbling way of life and you have yourself a nice existential crisis.
Yet, I’m grateful to Walmart for helping with opening up my self and reflecting on this long forgotten question. A mantra even, clutching prayer beads and sitting in meditation…
What am I building today? What am I building today? What am I building today?
Sick of the question yet? If so, then you may be where you want to be right now in life or know where you want to go. Fantastic! For those still searching and unhappy wherever they’re at, give this question a shot and let it sit for a while. Make it your koan (riddle) to reflect on.
Not everything has to be an act of productivity. You don’t always need to be “hustling”. If you want to start climbing out towards something new however, I think it’s a great question to get started with. Even if you’re happy with where you’re at, reflecting on this question may bring you into some new activities in your free time that you’ve always wanted to try.
This pandemic and the associated economic fallout and shift has raised a lot of attention to how we live and what we are doing. A shift in the economic structure leading to big tech gains, working from home, large grocery and delivery conglomerates further cementing dominance in the food and retail markets, the speeding up of automation, and of course the massive loss of work ….
With everything going on in the world now….
What do you want to build today?