The Joy of Destruction: Lessons Learned From My Three-Year-Old Nephew


The following piece was written by Maggie Gavin. Maggie has been teaching yoga for The Perri Institute for Mind and Body for five years. She is currently pursuing her MSW at Fordham University, to learn how to support mental health through yoga. Catch her class at Steps on Broadway: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM and Fridays at 12 PM.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time playing blocks with my nephew. While I tirelessly tried to build interesting and sturdy structures, he tirelessly knocked them over. Every time, I felt a little let down that the structure wasn’t “finished” before he knocked it over. But for him, the fun didn’t come from building, but from flinging the blocks up in the air and across the carpet (thankfully, they were soft, meant for toddler fun). Finally, I convinced him to let me stack 26 blocks (just like Daddy and he did before). Finished, they were taller than him. When I gave him the “go” to knock them down, he just stood still for a moment, a look of pure joy spreading over his entire being.

My sister-in-law commented that seeking the finished product is an adult mindset. Often in yoga and meditation, we talk about the idea of impermanence. We have to re-teach our adult students and ourselves something a child understands instinctively. How many times have we almost gotten to a place that feels complete, only to have the pieces get tossed up into the air? How do we react when that happens?

Intellectually, we know things change constantly. As children, we create situations that require rebuilding. We learn the meaning of tossing the pieces into the air and enjoy seeing where they fall. As the stakes of our lives increase, it becomes harder to see the pieces of our hard work fall apart. Can we find a way to approach the changes in our lives with the same childlike joy and curiosity? Can we pick the blocks up and start again, experimenting with a new structure? As challenging as the moment of destruction might be, each time we rebuild, we learn something new about how to fit the pieces together.

-Maggie Gavin

One Response to “The Joy of Destruction: Lessons Learned From My Three-Year-Old Nephew”
  1. Marissa says:

    Beautiful Maggie! I can’t help but feel that my nice and neatly stacked blocks have been thrown all over right now. This transition from college to “real life” is becoming increasingly more complicated than I thought it would be. We’ve always been told that everyone’s path is different but it’s becoming more and more apparent as the weeks go on. I’m trying to let go of my incessant need to control everything and allow the blocks to fall wherever they land. Thanks for the beautiful metaphor and inspiration to let go a little.

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