Trust Legos (or: How To Get Through Awful Events)

When I was a mere tot, Darling, I had serious parents. It didn’t ‘take’ so to speak, as one may note by the leopard print, red velvet curtains in the living room, but they certainly tried their hardest. No weekend morning cartoons. No cable/ satellite TV. No Disney, except Fantasia because it had classical music. No theme parks. No canopy beds or make-up (and one can only do so much with Bonnie Bell lip smackers!) or white bread or soda. There was not one rhinestone, not one speck of glitter anywhere in the house.

We, sigh, did good works. We picked up trash. We recycled. WE SHOLVED MULCH! We read. We ate bran. We, there are not words enough to describe my misery, hiked.

I couldn’t formulate then how I wanted to live but I knew it was NOT LIKE THIS.

The instant I moved out, I put paid to all that, making up time like a wombat released from captivity. Off I trundled and created a world in which every morning I have a choice of six perfumes and nine shades of lipstick. At least 6 Diet Cokes are in the house at all times, at least 4 kinds of chips, fancy cheese and fancy crackers for dinners several times a week, not one piece of black or grey clothing. A lot of books and a lot of gilt.

And the bookshelves, chairs and desks…from dark wood (is there any nicer wood than mahogany or teak? No. There is not. Cherry or Cedar in a pinch but you can take your birch and build under-water tree-houses. Let not maple nor oak come into my sight. Rosewood is allowed under certain circumstances but you put me in front of pine or fir and you will see nothing but hands.)

After a few years of decadent living, I visited a friend at her house. We would get up, pour ourselves coffee, set up our laptops opposite each other on her dining room table and work. On the first morning of my visit, her child came down, saw the arrangement, disappeared, came back with a huge Lego set, one of those with 36,873 pieces, and set to.

It was the first time I had even see Legos in action, so to speak, and over the two weeks of our morning work-sessions, a medieval village arose, piece by piece. It was on display for a few days, then broken up and given to someone else

What a beautiful idea – what a perfect metaphor for how to go through life.

When you start your puzzle or Lego kit, what happens? You spread the pieces everywhere and then pour yourself a liter of margarita because this will never work. Hear me, it will never work. Ever. You might as well give up now, but in the micro-second before you toss everything back in the box, well, it does look like that might be an edge piece and here is a little booklet which says which section to start with.

When I finally had my own Lego kit (princess, of course) it was a matter of my being sure that the piece I needed didn’t exist and then I found it, over and over. Despair – relief – this is never going to work – oh look I found it – I don’t have that piece – oh here it is – wait this doesn’t look like the drawing. Exhausting and also, eventually, encouraging, as I started to think “THERE IS NO BEIGE PIECE THAT IS ONE DOT WIDE AND EIGHT DOTS WIDE,” I would remember all the other times I was “sure” a piece didn’t exist. And then it existed.

And when I was done, I admired my work and kept one small part on my bookshelf as a reminder and gave the rest to a small tot. Like the ‘puzzle’ table at my mother’s library: when you are finished with a puzzle, you drop it off and either take one or bask in the happy glow of doing a good deed.

Legos are like life – like all those really annoying motivational quotes about ‘work the problem’ – step by step, piece by piece you can create what you want, be it magical palace or Masters in Social Work. Step, then another step, then despair, then another step, then a margarita or 6, then step.


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