02 April 2011

Everything worth learning, I learned from...


Oh man, growing up I LOVED Legos.  They're still all at my parents' house, all four giant Tupperware bins of them.  Thousands and Thousands of pieces, at least a hundred guys, honestly I miss them, there have been a few Sunday dinners where I've considered bringing a bin of them back to my place for when I'm bored.  Now that I'm older I've come to realize that I learned a lot of important life lessons and skills from all that time playing with Legos.

  • If you can follow directions you can make/do/be anything.
Building a Lego model is all about following directions, even though these directions are often a bit archaic.  Really Lego instructions are pictures of the model so far, and you've got to find the differences between this picture and the last picture, or what you already have, to figure out what you need to add.  What, in life, doesn't have instructions?  I mean I could get all esoteric and say how even our lives have an instruction book, but I tend to like more worldly examples.  Cooking is one.  I've never understood how anyone says "I don't know how to cook."  Now I'm no top chef, and I've never been to culinary arts school, but I learned in 7th grade Home Ec' that if there's a recipe for it I can make it, why?  Because Legos taught me how to follow directions.  The same goes for setting up the VCR, learning Algebra, or putting together that futon from IKEA, if you can follow directions there's nothing you can't do.

  • If you don't have what you need, move on, you'll find it later.
When building any Lego model I always started out having a giant pile of pieces in front of me.  Always you reach a point in the construction far enough in that there aren't many duplicate pieces left, but early enough that there's still a significant pile that you can't find the piece you need.  You can look for 15 minutes in that little pile and it's no where to be found.  Sometimes it's best to leave a missing piece behind and move on to the next step.  Sure enough a couple step later, maybe even the very next step, you'll come across that piece.  Sometimes you're looking so hard for that one specific piece that you miss it, often they come to you when you're not looking for them.  This goes for a lot of things it seems, the one it seems like I hear about most is dating.  I always listen to people talking about how they can't find a boyfriend/girlfriend, they go to church and look, they go to school and look, they take random classes and look, no boyfriend/girlfriend to be found.  I can honestly say I've never looked for a girlfriend, they find me.  I don't mean that in a cocky, girls-flock-to-me kind of way(well, maybe a little), but it's more that I live my life the way I want, and every now and then I come across a girl worth dating naturally.

  • If you really don't have what you need, make it yourself.
Sometimes you really don't have the piece you need, maybe there was a mistake at the plant, maybe your mom vacuumed it up because she told you to pick up your Legos and you didn't, who knows.  Legos are all proportional to each other, if you're missing a specific piece you can usually find something close enough.  Some people use the same piece that's just a different color, personally my OCD doesn't allow for that, so I find smaller pieces, or plates, to replace the bricks I'm missing.  This is easily done because plates are the smallest unit of Lego bricks, for instance, the standard brick is three plates tall.  Also if you need a 4x4 but cant find it, you can always use a pair of 4x2s or even four 4x1s.  Often in life you just don't have exactly what you need, but most of the time you can find way to make something to take it's place.

  • There's always a way to make what you have even better.
I made a lot of cool Lego models, I had pretty much the whole NASA themed space shuttle set, I was so excited, I got almost every model in the set in a single birthday and Christmas. The launchpad, the Shuttle and booster, the Shuttle/747 piggy-back thing, even the little ones like the Astronaut transport vehicle.  As much as I loved those models I still found ways to improve on them, at least in my mind.  Whether it was adding bigger nozzles on the booster, using the instructions to make an all black space shuttle, adding lasers on to the Space Shuttles Moonraker style, even just adding a joystick to the cockpit, I could always find ways to embellish what I had.  Sure, sometimes I probably took it too far, sometimes what I added or took away made it look like something completely different, but what is good for some isn't for everyone.

  • It's the building that counts.
It's probably because growing up(and my "growing up" usually starts around 5 or 6) was done as the child of a single mom in small apartments so we didn't have room to keep all my Lego creations intact.  This meant that after an hour of building, and maybe a few days of getting to play with it, I eventually had to take it all apart.  It was always a depressing activity, but the thing about building it once is that it goes faster the second time, and faster still the third.  Also, with each model I'd build I'd learn new tricks to use on the next model or when I built freestyle.  Doing things a few times allows you to master them.

  •  The more bricks you have, the more you can build.
A lot of my time playing with Legos was spent building freestyle, just taking all of the bricks I had, both from models and otherwise and making new things out of them.  A lot of models have unique pieces, pieces that before the internet you could only get from a select few models.  These were usually things like uniquely shaped windows, to wings, to even unique helmets or uniforms on the guys.  The key was, the more Legos or models you had, even if they were small ones, the more you had at your disposal the more you could imagine and build.  In life I love learning new skills.  People always ask me, "how do you know how to do that?"  Or, "how do you know that?"  Sometimes I have random Slumdog Millionaire style stories for them, but most of the time I just wanted to know, so I learned.  One example was learning to build computers.  Now I'm not a huge techie, and my family are quite the opposite of huge techies, but I've always been interested in computers.  A couple years ago I needed a new computer and I decided I should just build one myself.  I spent a couple of months doing research, reading books, magazines, manuals until I was ready and I did it.  Most skills seem to be made out of lots of little, more basic, skills, just like Lego models are built out of lots of little bricks,  if you have the bricks you can build the model.  The more bricks and the wider variety of bricks you have, along with all of your other Lego skills you've gained are really enough that you can put anything together.


Kaybaybay said...

You've made me look at legos in a whole new way. And I'll never look at them the same.

Madi A said...

The same day I read this post, my little brother came and asked me to help him make his new Lego model. Putting that together with him, and thinking about this post, was very interesting.

Waiting On A Sister Missionary said...

I'm pretty jealous.

I like to joke that I can't wait to have kids so I can play with LEGOs again without seeming odd...