I will never forget my first Lego set. If I recall correctly it was my birthday present while we were in England. Mom hung out with some other ladies from Hong Kong and the first box of Lego came from one of them. Slowly but surely, I accumulated one box set after another. My favorite was the “Castle” set with knights, castles, and horses. Unlike the ones now, the majority of the earlier versions were primarily focused on bricks of different sizes rather than designs. In those days, Lego products were not tied with some latest media frenzy. I miss that.
What I liked about my play time with Lego and even until today was (1) The joy of completing a model after following the set by step instructions (2) After playing for a while, then the creative juices kicked int and the I start “remodeling” the existing models, (3) After a while, the mind breaks free and goes into all sorts of creative experimentation.
I had a suitcase which put all my Lego bricks inside into one big mix of possibilities. The joy of building and construction has stayed with me since. I may not have been a very outdoor person, but the inner world of imagination was a wonderful gift that came about with some really fun tools like Lego.
Some traumatic experiences came with it too… as some of my friends had a different idea about toys. I recall showing my own model of a helicopter during primary school when they came to visit during Chinese new year. I proudly showed him my efforts in trying to build one through Lego bricks. He looked at it, throw it in the air until it crashed into pieces on the ground and laughed. I have not gone for years of therapy because of this event, but it did hurt because I couldn’t understand why one would take pleasure in “destruction” rather than “construction”. Ok, maybe too much psychoanalyzing here đź™‚ What’s important is for me, the joy of seeing new models emerge has been a constant for me.
Breaking up existing models into pieces was only a transition for a newer model to emerge. The Old worlds were always reconfiguring themselves in my play for new worlds to be birthed. Old stories evolved into newer ones with uncharted paths to be explored.
Now, perhaps you can appreciate my joy when Gareth has discovered the joy of playing with the Lego sets I have kept for him since my childhood. Elysia is catching the love too.
This love affair with Lego is more than just the fun and play it gives .. it’s a sign of something deeper, something precious. Something I will not ever want to give up – The joy of “building” – the happiness which comes with constructing something from nothing (or limited resources) – the wonders which can come from imagination and creativity.
It’s dawning more and more to me that I’m in my mid thirties, and it’s very tempting to get caught up with stuff which is “less constructive”. I don’t think I’d be actively in a “destructive” mode. I don’t think I have the luxury .. in fact, I never did. The years in UK during my childhood gave me a chance to see how tough it was for our family, my dad working and studying, my mom taking care of me and also doing work at home, my interaction with different races in Leicester whether it’s Vietnamese refugees to Indian migrants or suburban British boys, the fun and laughter with overseas university students who crowded our house for dinner and conversations, etc. It wasn’t a bad childhood, it was pretty good .. but it was not a silver spoon in my mouth. My choice has always been limited, and I’ve learnt to live creatively with those limitations. Now looking back, I can understand why I respond or react a certain way give this kind of background.
Anyway, I’m off to pick up Gareth from school to bring him to my mom’s house. And guess what he’s looking forward to?
Time to play with Lego … or more precisely, time to build … đź™‚