Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Warped Plastic #13

Click to see Warped Plastic #12.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Peace by Piece--Jeremiah 1:5

Every year at Christmastime I consider what I can give the Christ child. After all, why shouldn't He get presents at His own birthday celebration?

Some years my gifts to Him have included working on my patience, trying to pray more sincerely, and paying more attention during family scripture study.

This year I've chosen to give Baby Jesus my talents. 

While this isn't my first foray into illustrating scriptures with Lego, I wanted to take what I've learned from making my webcomic and create simple, shareable images with uplifting messages (as I am LDS, these scripture messages would come not only from the Bible, but also from the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the teachings of modern-day prophets). I believe pairing these words with Lego can inspire new ways of thinking about them, and as much as I look forward to having an easy and unique way to share something that means so much to me, I hope my pictures can help lift other people up, too.

New installments to this "Peace by Piece" series will be published every Sunday. I've chosen one of my favorite scripture verses to start with--Jeremiah 1:5. It has always brought me so much comfort to know that God knows and loves me personally, and I feel closer to Him every time I read this little reminder.

I hope all of you are happy and well, and enjoying this wonderful holiday season!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Let's Talk About Nostalgia

Elementary school nearly scared me away from college.

A presenter visited my fifth-grade class one day to teach us how to perform research at a library. She used terms like Dewey Decimal System, demonstrated how to use a card catalog, and promised us that when we got to college--even high school, depending on the class--we would spend endless nights with our noses crammed in books.

I imagined myself then reading through thick volumes to find one quote to use in the lengthy papers I was also promised I would have to write.

It took me probably a month to get through Harry Potter. Library research? Not. For. Me.

There's a reason N and O are next to each other in the alphabet.
Image credit: Your Dictionary

Thankfully by middle school, Google had arrived to save the day (and my future education). I never did have to sort through a card catalog like some barbarian, and with every click of the mouse I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't stuck in the library. The world changed--and it changed in my favor.

(Looking back, I have to appreciate the irony that I became an English major and ended up spending countless nights with my nose crammed in a book anyway. But I digress.)

A lot of things are so much easier now thanks to technology: research, communication, finding directions to that new Indian restaurant. With a tap on a screen, I can read the news, schedule a colonoscopy, and wish a friend a happy birthday.

When you sit back and think about it, the level of sorcery we've attained is truly amazing. In the old days, we would have all been burned as witches. We're truly blessed.

"It was only a Snapchat filter!"
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

But I also can't help but wonder if we've lost something. And by we, I mostly mean I--but maybe you can relate.

I've always been prone to nostalgia. Sometimes I drive certain roads just because I used to go there with my friends. I consider the Super Nintendo the pinnacle of gaming. I've loaded my Bricklink wishlist with Lego sets from the 80's and 90's.

And if the multitude of 90's nostalgia pages I've followed on Facebook is any indication, I'm not the only one. Even Wendy's got in on the action with a recent ad campaign:

Nostalgia serves a valuable purpose. J.M. Barrie said, "God gave us memories that we might have roses in December."

Whatever age one grew up in, who doesn't, on occasion, look back with a smile on what appears to have been a simpler time?

I miss late-night summer drives, letting the cool air blow in from the open window and feeling no responsibility for anyone but myself.

I miss Saturday mornings playing Donkey Kong Country in my friend's basement, on a boxy television that hummed when you turned it on.

I miss the charming, light-hearted aesthetic of 90's Lego catalogs, whose colorful backgrounds and smiling characters transported me to a happier world.

Image credit: The Brothers Brick

I can't help but smile when I think of all those things. But to entertain thoughts of the past requires balance--a delicate walk between living in the past and learning from it. And I have to recognize that the past, as beautiful as it was, isn't necessarily better than the life I have now.

The Lego sets from my childhood continue to fill me with wonder, and they feel positively different from what the company produces today. Different--not better. What I wouldn't have given to have a set like the massive Ninjago City when I was a kid!

And while a hallmark of the Super Nintendo is how its games have stood the test of time, I know my seven-year-old eyes would have gone wide with amazement at, say, Mario Kart 8.

And yeah, I have a lot more responsibility now than I did as a teenager. But I'm also married to my best friend, and we have three children who I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. They light up my whole life.

Whenever I start thinking about "the good ol' days," I try to steer those thoughts toward an internal discussion of what lessons I can use from them.

If I long for a simpler time, maybe I should make this time simpler.

If my happy memories are about people, maybe I should leave my phone in a back room while I spend quality time with my family.

Maybe I can use the Internet to access the vast stores of human knowledge instead of arguing with strangers over politics.

Maybe I can go outside a little more, or read more books, or build my own happy Lego town.

Someday I'll look back on this time of my life the same way I look back on my childhood. Right now, I get to choose what that future me will see.

Thomas S. Monson has said, "The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it." By learning from the past and truly appreciating the present, I can make memories the future me will treasure.

These are the moments I will someday get nostalgic for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Warped Plastic #11

Not that I'm against Black Friday shopping, but I have to appreciate the irony.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! And may you have a safe, non-contentious Black Friday.

Click to see Warped Plastic #10 and #12.
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