Long before college pamphlets or bank statements, I received Lego Magazines in my mail. Every month, my fingers wore out the pages as I marked the sets I liked. Even at that age, I loved the concept: build whatever you want. I enjoyed the simplicity of the bricks, and the variety they possessed over Lincoln Logs or Megablocks. I savored their potential. Even now at 17, I still believe in Legos.
I believe in their ability to teach. I learned to build symmetrically, to interlock and overlap, to build with style, shape, and matching colors before I knew my times tables. I built houses and cars before I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, my first book out loud. I accumulated more and more, and my parents joked, “You’ll be able to build your own house one day with that many.” For a time I thought, “Why not?” Working with my hands became my first talent, and Legos my first obsession.
As my collection grew, I broke away from the instructions. I would use them, but I discovered the best constructions appeared only as illustrations on the back cover, creative and unmapped. I tried to rival them. What the manual told me to build would not stand long. Too anxious to build something outside of the book, I would tear down its creation in a tedious fury. From the pile of hollowed bricks, I made something of my own. Even this did not last long – I wanted more: the color scheme had to be noticeable, the detail needed a certain depth, balance was essential. I reconstructed, and improvisation nurtured my creativity.
Legos taught me to dream. I wanted a small workspace: that of an architect, a quiet arena where my mind could clash with itself. I wanted a place belonging to protractors, pens, and graph paper. Though I’ve found other interests, I still use the skills Legos taught me. When school presents an opportunity to construct, I oblige – with cell analogies, and castle replicas and Civil War battle scenes. To my parents’ delight, I am also capable of building patio furniture, grills, and kitchen appliances. But I always return to Legos.
Now they sit in a closet downstairs in a deep, plastic tub amid other toys: pieces of chemistry sets, Hot Wheels racecars, and used crayons. Though I don’t use them as much, I will never throw my Legos away or sell them. If anything, they will belong to my future son. More than a toy or simple pastime, I want Legos to provide him with the same gifts they have given me: a foundation for his imagination and a love for making it real.
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