How rituals of connection are bridges to simpler times.
Through lockdown, friends told me the same story
‘I went back to painting. I started to garden again. I baked. I built a wooden deck. I wrote a poem. I knitted a sweater. ‘I returned to photography. I made a vase. I composed a song’.
I. Created. This.
When I asked why, the answer was: ‘I was bored. And it gave me moments of peace’.
For me, I went back to building LEGO. It was like meeting an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. Every time we met, it went something like this:
I stare at the box for 2 minutes. I shake it. Definitely LEGO inside. Turn it around. I shake it again. Just in case.
I place it on the table. Slowly break the seals. Ah, the sound. Display bags, instructions, and stickers. Steal all the bowls in the flat while driving my partner mad. Sorry, sorting is everything.
Open first bag — bricks all over. Do NOT let any piece fall on the floor. DO NOT. Sort by color, then by shape. And so it starts:
Pick. Brick. Click.
Have the first panic attack when one piece falls to the ground. I summon the whole household to find it. My fingers cramp. Back aches. Shoulder is dormant. Don’t recall any of these when I was a child. Damn. And, when it all comes together with that last brick, that feeling:
I. Built. This.
My LEGO story started way before lockdown. It began at age 3 when I received my first LEGO Duplo Farm. According to my parents, I called the pig ‘doggie’ and the chickens ‘pigeons’. In hindsight, starting to wear glasses only at age 14 wasn’t the right move.
At age 8, I received my fire station, with the coolest control tower. An all-terrain truck with extending ladder. Hoses and sirens. And walkie-talkies, wonderful devices with no access to email.
And at age 13, I graduated to Lego Technic, an intricate mix of beams and gear wheels. It became apparent that I wasn’t cut out for a career in mechanical engineering. The world is a safer place, believe me.
After that, LEGO disappeared from my life for 25 years. It was like a summer love — you remember how exhilarating it felt, but you can’t recall why it ended. I guess life happened.
And we would have parted ways forever if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with the LEGO Millenium Falcon. A story for another day.
So why did I go back to LEGO? Why did my friends get back to their own rituals?
What happens when we have ‘nothing better to do’? Boredom drives us to become children again. We are not concerned about looking good or standing out. Have you ever heard a child saying ‘my drawing isn’t good enough?’
It is simpler. We just want to create something of our own making.
I. Created. This
We forget how to be children. Life happens. And through these rituals and moments, we learn it again.
Scarcity creates boredom. Boredom breeds creativity. Creativity drives connection. Connection creates peace.
Some say building LEGO is pointless. That you are following instructions, a recipe. That you build it to take it down. That it is not productive.
I respect their opinion, but I know what’s in it for me. When I build LEGO, outside expectations disappear. No one is watching. I can follow instructions or experiment. I can go fast or go slow. I can build it alone or with family. I can be nervous, happy, anxious, or tired.
It doesn’t matter because suddenly, it’s only me. Connecting with myself. Everything else disappears. Even if only for a moment, I am at peace. During those moments, Everything is Awesome.
LEGO is my ritual of connection, a bridge to simpler times. A way to achieve peace.
Some of us have now stopped doing those things. ‘Life is back to normal’ we say.
It is a Sunday morning, at 11.54 AM. I find myself in the queue for the LEGO store to open. I stand out: the only adult surrounded by 7 kids. And their parents — as excited as their kids are. I am not ashamed. Each of us is craving the same thing: enjoying our childhood. Or bringing it back.
I know that life happens. But weaving those moments of connection into our busy lives brings us peace. Maybe the last few months have shown us a new, better normal.
LEGO and I found each other again. And, even if life happens, we will never part ways.
Pick. Brick. Click.
Marco André – London, UK.