Confessions of a Lego®Addict

Five Reasons Why It Serves Me Well

Photo by Author — Harry Potter and Hedwig

I am a Lego ® addict. There is no denying it.

Strangely enough, when I was the “appropriate” age to be building Lego®, I didn’t really engage much in the activity. All those years ago, the bricks we used were just the plain old square one’s—nothing fancy, when you compare the designs that are available today.

My latest project was Harry Potter and Hedwig.

Hedwig has moving wings! There is a very intricate and cleverly developed pully system that he is attached too. When you turn the winch, those wings move as if there were a real owl on that brown stand. It is really quite incredible how this simple building system has developed over the years.

It was also the first build that I did all on my own. Usually, I am building Lego® with my two godchildren, and those normally comprise of dragons, cars, dinosaurs, underwater machines — all the really fanciful stuff.

I took some quiet time as I was creating this one to reflect on why I enjoy building these systems so much. I realised that when I buy for the two boys, in actual fact, I am buying what I like. Yes, they land up liking it too, but in the first instance, it is mostly what I think would be a fun project.

I strategise the build and use my project management skills to conduct the whole event.

I open the box carefully. For those of you who build too, you will know about that little thumb recess that they manufacture into the box. The whole experience of the build starts right there.

I purposefully press my thumb through the cardboard. Then very carefully, without tearing the rest of the box, I retrieve all of the numbered packets. I love the big builds, which can sometimes have up to 25 of them.

I systematically lay out all of these, in their order (of course). They are perfectly in place so that I can always understand at what phase of the project I am at.

The book is opened, and I never page ahead. I follow that book religiously. Of course, why wouldn’t I?

I start to open the packets, which you need to do very carefully. If you pull too hard, the plastic will succumb, and every single piece of those little gems inside will burst all over the place. Who knows if you will be able to find them then? I know — I have learnt from a previous mistake.

I then arrange the blocks and gadgets (if the set is a working one) into colour. If there are similar pieces, I sub arranged those by size.

I love the whole process of it. Finding the piece that the book says you need. The way each piece fits the other. The sound of the bricks as they click into place. Sometimes, if you have a tiny piece and it requires some extra pressure, a piece of your skin from your finger gets caught between those two pieces. That’s happened a couple of times.

I often sit back and revel in that phase I have just completed.

I can never see what that phase will look like at the end when I start. I trust that by following the book and putting the pieces into place, it tells me to, that the outcome will lead to the overall success of the project.

It is a beautiful, peaceful time, and when each phase is complete, I sit back to enjoy the mini-milestone. I revel in the magnificence of this simple, although quite complex building system.

It is a perfect paradox.

Photo by Author — The Taj Mahal — A Friendship Project

During the lockdown, I spent a large portion of it with friends since I was helping with homeschooling their two boys, my two godchildren. You can imagine my excitement when it was announced that we were to expect delivery of the Taj Mahal!

I think the boys were excited too.

This was a massive project — certainly the biggest that I have ever done. It was to be our joint project, my friend and I, and a bit of a homage to the wonderful places that we have visited together. The Taj (the actual one) is still on my travel bucket list, but my friend has visited it, so it was quite special for her.

It was such a great build to do together. We were able to split the work equally, and with the development of the Lego® App, I used this, while she used the (extensive) book.

Since I admittedly have a slight obsession about how you should conduct a build — following the process, laying out your pieces, by colour, by size — it was wonderful that we could work independently of each other, and then amalgamate our work at the end of each phase. She has a slightly more haphazard and freestyle approach to how her build goes.

The little boys, being great fans of Lego® too, were eager to lend their hand to the work that we were doing. I am generally quite open to their involvement and let them carry on, but I felt quite territorial about this particular build.

I watched them with the eyes of a hawk; they were reminded very emphatically to “look with your eyes, not with your hands” at the finished phases. I gave them very menial jobs to do — like gathering the pieces for me.

In retrospect, this was probably not very “godmotherly”. But they did have their own Lego® in any event.

I am an addict.

When I start a build, I will sit for hours on end. Placing out the pieces, folding up open packets, to make sure that none have been left behind. Sorting pieces into colours, sorting them into size and then purposefully placing them in the proper place to create some of the most intricate and interesting toys.

How is it that this forty-something-year-old finds such pleasure and reward from this “children’s” toy?

Here are my top five reasons:

  1. There is a starting point and an endpoint.

In the past two years, I have taken on the massive challenge of completely changing my career. It has taken some profound thought and loads of personal development for me to achieve what I have so far.

It is a neverending rollercoaster ride of hard lessons, sometimes slow results, and learning curves. As I progress, new goals develop and so there is a constant need to learn and grow.

When I start a build, there is the starting point and the endpoint, both of which are easily achievable. The reward of accomplishment is always close at hand.

2. It is a form of meditation.

It settles my mind when I start to build.

Although I am thinking throughout, it is not frenetic or with questions. It is only a flow of actionable steps towards the desired outcome.

It allows me to be creative. It helps towards a clearer thought, and if I need it, a re-focus on things that might have posed a challenge.

3. It resolves stress.

It is taking a chaotic situation and applying order to it. If you take the pieces out of their bags and leave them in a pile, the chaos persists.

It is gratifying that you can create peace and process, and format a structure and then be grateful for the result. It is stress relief at it’s best.

It’s about simply following directions. There can be nothing more simple than that.

4. It is great fun to do with your best friend.

When your best friend is a loving mom, a caring wife, a dutiful daughter, a soft-hearted sister and top-notch lawyer at a global corporate, it is such a blessing to be able to spend quality downtime together.

Giggling and mocking each other as the towers collapsed when we tried to move them and having to redo the roof because we dropped the frame. These are some of the best memories I have when I look at our completed Taj Mahal.

Aside from the conversations and the catching up, even though we see each practically every day, it was a meaningful time for us both. It was a time without stress, without worry, and with a childish spirit that perhaps we all need from time to time.

5. It is even greater fun to do it with a four and a six-year-old.

I help the boys build their boxes. Which means that I get involved with two separate builds, and have to referee (most of the time) when one gets ahead of the other. It is a lesson in balance.

I put away my stoic method of building, and let them do what makes them comfortable. I do offer some suggestions as to a more productive means of building, but perhaps it is best to let the creativity of their youth, run rampant.

It is certainly great fun even if I am constantly picking up vital pieces from the floor and talking above the chitter-chatter of excited little voices, who are preparing to get a race together, with their “pullback” Lego® cars, as soon as they are finished.

I am such a Lego® addict.

Author’s Note: I am not associated with Lego® in any form whatsoever. I am only addicted to the amazing structures and toys, and the process used to build them.