Jiu-Jitsu Letter

It's For Nothing

Lex Fridman had Rick Rubin on his show recently. Near the beginning, Lex talks about building toothpick bridges:

I used to build bridges from toothpicks. I used to be a thing. It’s an engineering. I guess some people like glued together, airplanes and stuff like that. But the bridges, such deeply honest work because at the end of it, you’re going to have to test that bridge and you’re going to see how good your work was, the little details, but also the big picture.

Yeah, you use glue. So it’s not pure physics. It’s, it’s, it’s a materials engineering too. There’s a way you want to do it as you actually split the wood as thin as possible, and then glue back together because the glue is really, uh, strong except for the arches and things like that. So you’re building arch bridges, which is a whole ‘nother skill because you have to bend the wood.

And it’s so cool ‘cause the thing can hold thousands of times its weight and then you get to watch it explode, at a certain point from the pressure. And when you do a really good job, it doesn’t explode in a, um, kind of some weak point that you didn’t anticipate just kind of starts cracking it’s, everything, cracks, everything explodes.

It’s just pieces fly everywhere. And it’s literally hundreds of hours of work just explode in front of you. And that’s a, that’s a metaphor for life maybe. And it’s all for nothing, except for the journey that you took to get there. And, uh, no one understands.

The whole episode is great. https://lexfridman.com/rick-rubin/

Subscribe to the newsletter to get updates in your inbox.