At the school where I work I'm know to many of the students as "the Lego guy". Last week someone I work with was kind enough to bring me a recent copy of the magazine Southwest Airlines distributes on it planes. It featured an article about AFOLs (Adult Fans Of Lego). The story about the niche of Lego enthusiasts over the age of 18 was very interesting.
But something else in the magazine concerning Lego caught my attention and got me thinking. It was the 5 paragraph blurb directed to readers by it's editorial director, Jay Heinrich.
Mr. Heinrich approaches the 80+ year old toy from a perspective I hadn't considered before. He claims that the charm and longevity of Lego products is not what you can build with it but rather what else you can build with it.
He sights the ability to construct something with Legos using your imagination, take it apart and then get a second chance to build again.
I think that's a uncompromising aspect of this creative toy. There is a type of psychological security that no matter what you make with your Lego bricks you will have the opportunity for a "do over".
In his book "Brain Storm" which is about the creative process, former Disney animator and director, Don Hahn, clearly advocated multiple attempts at the same task as a vital component in the creativity process. The freedom to be able to do it better is present in all things creative.
It's also a part of the foundation of the Christian faith. The main reason Jesus came to earth as a man was to make a way to give "the world" a spiritual second chance. It's the meaning of the keystone verse of the New Testament, John 3:16.
Second chances are a constant in this life. While not always available, they are the rule rather than the exception. Those situations where there is no 2nd chance are always among the greatest regrets in life.
The belief in second chances seems to wain with age. The older we get it seems the less faith we have in the plausibility of redemption. We view the world as "set in stone" with a definitive end and that limits our view of opportunities.
One of the games my granddaughter, Aria, likes me to play with her involves her belief in 2nd chances.
While down on the floor playing with her, she likes me to stack whatever is available. Cards, over-sized building blocks, quarters from her Minnie bank, whatever toys she has out at the time.
Once I finish stacking them she takes great pleasure in knocking the stack down. TIMBER!!! She smiles and giggles every time.
The reason for her joy is the action. We can then repeat the process of making the stack again. To her there will always be another chance. She immediately motions for me to rebuild the pile; convinced that our playing is a process with no end.
Now people my age or older have much more difficulty with believing that they'll be able to do something they've delayed in doing or in getting the opportunity to do something right 2nd time.
At our age we have set the pattern for our life, made our bed and need to accept that we must lie in it. We feel secure in our routine. If something didn't work out at this point in life, perhaps it wasn't "meant to be." Our belief that we are worthy of 2nd chances is very limited.
The principle inherit with each and every set of Lego bricks is that there is always a chance to start over again and do your best to make it better this time.
Lego bricks are tangible optimism with a hope for redemption as a bonus.
You may or may not agree with me. But I can see this aspect being a key part of my enjoyment of Lego. As an adult I need encouragement to try things I want to do or retry those I have not done so well before. I see value in the simplistic positive statement that lingers among the bricks.
So while most people may look at a Lego brick and see a 6 sided hunk of molded plastic; as an AFOL I know that there is actually an unseen 7th side. And that's the side which fuels my continuing interest in one of the world's most enduring toys.
Magazine Editor's perspective on Lego and rebuilding life.