As a kid I used to avidly build model airplanes. I had this euphoric moment when I would open the box, all it’s aerodynamic pieces in perfect order, connected in a shapely grid by tiny, invisible joinery. Layered in perfect component parts. In this format, I could assemble that plane in 30 seconds in my mind. I might even imagine it in some elaborate paint scheme, flying through through a Texas sky between the delicate pinch of my juvenile fingers. It was all physically there, and there was potential, the opportunity to reach an ideal future.
The next moment I would begin unfurling the instructions and assembling the necessary adjuncts; glue, paint, paper towels, exacto knife, sandpaper, and a fine tip pen. Tools at the ready, I would commit a large portion of my personal square-footage to the project. I will always remember, you start by assembling the pilot’s seat and the cockpit… the brain of the plane, ugly, small and so much less interesting than the wings.
And then it would start, the reality of what I was doing. The gritty truth that the instructions don’t yield a finished craft in the first five steps, or even the last five. Most often there was no guidance for painting or decal placement whatsoever, and you would have to either copy the box, or find a book (before internet) that had an image of whatever historical icon you wanted to recreate.
Sometimes I would even just skip the cockpit. After using too much glue and melting it into nothing more than a plastic gumball, I would give up, “Who needs to see the pilot anyway? It’s a model of the airplane not the pilot!” This thinking, once committed to, had the capacity to grow and follow me through the project. I began cutting corners and moving as fast as I could toward my vision of this pristine little aircraft to hold and to use and to love.
What do you think happened?
Upon completion, It lacked the finesse and perfection I had been hoping for. The paint job had runs, the decals weren’t aligned, the pilot was crookedly glued to the window and the once-perfect wings had warped under the hair dryer’s heat that had been used to speed up a layer of paint drying. It was only a shadow of my vision, which begs the question.
When there were no more pieces to glue together, was the project finished?
(shoot me your thoughts…and we’ll write the idea together)
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