I’m a sand castle purist.  I use only my hands, drip/pancake style.  How I let the wet sand fall from my hand has everything to do with what takes form.  A hot sun, 85 or higher, is necessary to bake the sand quickly.  Having almost no wind is important to keep the tower detail intact.  Fine-grain shell sand is essential.  Rock sand will not do.

Engaged in the process of creating sandcastles, I’ve noticed a pattern in the emergence of new ideas.  New architectural forms rarely emerge in a day or three.  It takes all day devotion for almost a week before new kinds of towers start to spontaneously form.  When the novelty begins to flow, it’s not one interesting unique construction, but several.

Often, the surge of creativity follows an emotional low in the form of boredom/depression/disappointment.  I’ve noticed this effect in other times in my life.  The lows seem to release or hollow me out of present infatuations.  The space created allows the growth of something new.

There has been an observation among developmental biologists studying early human ontogeny on the repercussions of testosterone surges in embryos, infants and toddlers.  These surges “prune” brain growth.  It has been estimated that one particularly powerful surge compels the left brain lobe to grow slower, resulting in right-handed, “normal” children.  It is thought that this pruning is a good thing.  It has been hypothesized that autistic children don’t experience this surge.  Without the surge, the child can have a larger brain with two hemispheres similar in size.  It seems, according to this analysis, that some destruction is necessary to achieve the split consciousness familiar to most of us that are not autistic.  Destruction creates imbalance that compels self reflection.

The worst war in human history, WWII, has been followed by a voluntary currency/political alliance of 25 countries.  At the center of this remarkable development is Germany.  More than 6 million civilian innocents died in death camps during the social madness of WWII.  Most of my relatives disappeared.  That sacrifice has resulted in a devastatingly powerful national shame.  Germany is working out the grief of what its people participated in.  Unlike the Israeli government, they seem serious as they seek to practice “Never Again.”  The EU is the most powerful political creative force in the world today, providing an insight into what the future looks like.  The sacrifice of those innocents was not in vain.

Gould & Eldridge’s theory of punctuated equilibrium notices the gaps in the fossil record and suggests that destruction and speciation may go hand in hand.  Death and creativity may be more than cousins; they might be the same person on different days.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s species were destroyed when the asteroid hit earth 63 million years ago.  A major portion of our Western hemisphere got pruned.  Mammals flourished.

Toddlers are the asteroids of the sand castle worlds my helpers and I assemble.  Having not yet developed hand/eye skills or self reflection, these little, mostly speechless, beach demons can offer little but their ability to destroy.  And so they do.  What follows the destruction is inevitably unique.


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