Just a few minutes from home, under a heavy bundle of pine trees, there is a little landing where my daughter and her friend have been building a branch fort/hut to play in. A secret fort if you will.
Barefoot and roaming, the children connect with this place, vibrant and full of spirit. Where animal spirits and human sounds have mingled for thousands of years, the children add their own touch, adding to their hut, and conjuring up leafy soups and dirt-drawn figures. The sleep quarters here they say, the bathroom, down the slope behind a large pine, the kitchen here, the nursery there. The little hut includes all the elements they imagine. Sticks become building blocks, rocks, fire pits, little pebbles trading tools, bugs and birds the entertainment, pine droppings the base for beds and pads. It’s incredible but just a few visits and the hut forms.
Everywhere, the forest presents a little maze of trails worn by the natural moment of both animals and people over thousands of years. Wild boars roam at night marking the trails, birds build their nests, providing a natural model to mirror. Nearby, an old missile silo is covered in graffiti. A similar fort built by more and bigger hands and somewhere to explore and build in.
Later that evening, upon returning home the girls play with their Lego sets, invoke the spirits of the wilderness, their forts and the mountain in which they played. Mimicking nature, they mix and match the toy sets like the rocks, branches, twigs from earlier. Little wooden train cars, plush toys, and blankets all add to mismatched sets of Lego inherited from neighboring kids.
Whether they are in their forest hut or playing at home, the girls show no hesitation in creatively blending the tools and materials at their disposal. This ‘flexibility’ is a natural trait in children, but often, it fades as we age. The ability of children to effortlessly mix and match is boundless, unencumbered by the rigid lines and diminished wonder that come with adulthood.
One of the most enriching aspects of spending time with children in nature is reconnecting with this sense of wonder, this innate spirit. It's in the electric energy pulsating through the ground. When I observe how they can imagine little rocks as both dolls and building blocks for their structures, it inspires me to step out of my more fixed mindset. It encourages me to embrace the imagination and see the world anew under the light flickering, dappled thru tree line.
Engaging in this manner, we begin to see everything through a looser, fresher perspective. This sense of fluidity is not just metaphorical but becomes quite literal when observing the girls constructing dreamworlds using Lego and other toys. This imaginative flexibility is further amplified when we introduce the Free Universal Construction Kit. This kit, an open-source collection of adapter bricks and tools designed for seamless compatibility between various children's building toys.
By bridging different toy systems, the Universal Construction Kit not only fosters interoperability but also encourages novel forms of interaction. It breaks down the barriers imposed by proprietary toy designs, igniting a level of creativity that is both unprecedented and inspiring and mirrors the limitless potential inherent in the way children play with natural materials.
As a nexus of diverse building worlds, the Kit extends the life and narrative of each toy, weaving them into a rich tapestry of interconnected stories and possibilities. It mirrors the boundless realms of nature, where children's imaginations effortlessly flow, symbolizing a shift towards a more integrated and flexible way of engaging with our surroundings. This kit stands as a beacon for creativity, celebrating the fusion of different elements through curiosity and the joy of discovery.
Similar to the way the Universal Construction Kit and wilderness as setting allows for the creative re/combination of ideas and play modes, microdosing particularly with psychedelic substances like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) or LSD can also blur traditional boundaries and serve as a practice for transformative creative construction and deconstruction. By loosening the rigid confines of adult thought, much like how the kit transcends conventional toy boundaries, microdosing can reduce the limitations imposed by the default mode network. This relaxation and can lead to heightened creativity, a revival of forgotten modes of play, new uses of diction and vocabulary , and an increased eagerness to venture into new territories, even on well-trodden paths.
The same trail traversed yesterday can, remarkably transform into a distinct experience today. Microdosing can unveil a world imbued with newfound beauty and potential, opening doors to perspectives as varied and interconnected as the myriad constructs possible with the Universal Construction Kit.
Like the Universal Construction Kit that allows limitless mash up of toys, microdosing might impact Default Mode Network (DMN), or the network of interacting brain regions that is active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest. Microdosing can lead to a decrease in the DMN's activity, a breakdown in the ego, which can lean to a sense of increased connectedness and a breakdown of personal barriers or rigid thought patterns. By relaxing the DMN, microdosing may help in disrupting entrenched patterns of thought and behavior, potentially leading to increased cognitive flexibility. For those bound by legal restrictions, practices like zazen or deep meditation can also similarly affect the DMN.
Whether venturing into nature, expanding the boundaries of toys and play objects, sitting in zazen, or exploring microdosing, these diverse practices can catalyze creative engagement. This journey into nature, play, and innovation is not merely about recapturing childhood joy, but also about reimagining the potential within our reach, transcending the confines of adulthood and conventional mental frameworks and physical limitations. In embracing the limitless potential of these tools we rediscover the world anew – a canvas of endless possibilities ignited by our collective imagination and the spirit of wonder.
Like the endless synapses in nature, grab a friend, a family member or head by yourself armed with one or more of these tools
The water, the air, the wind, the synapses, all will fire freely and you’ll realize:
The same trail traversed yesterday can, remarkably, transform into a distinct experience today.
Universal Construction Tools(s):