The Lessons I Learned From A Lego Builder

The Lessons I Learned From A Lego Builder

When I was a kid, I wasn’t into Legos. I found them tedious and painful to step on! It would take hours of looking at directions and figuring out where the piece you dropped into the puffy carpet went

When I was a kid, I wasn’t into Legos.  I found them tedious and painful to step on!  It would take hours of looking at directions and figuring out where the piece you dropped into the puffy carpet went.  As an adult, I can’t say that I find any more enjoyment in building Legos or accidently stepping on them than I did as a kid.  What I will say is I learned some very crucial lessons from the Lego Building Expert in my life:  My Uncle Bud.  

My godson is somewhat of an enigma.  He can look at the small pieces of a Lego set, the pages of an instruction manual and quickly, and effortlessly I might add, put together an entire Lego city in the time it would take me to match the pieces to the first few pages of the booklet.  My uncle was, also, a sight to watch as he started putting together these sets for my godson to start off his collection.  What most did not see were the lessons my uncle shared with my godson, or the lessons he was teaching me.

  1. Patience.  Something that we work on daily.  My uncle would sit with my godson and allow him to tinker for hours and at his own pace.  My uncle was never in a rush to complete the task, but waited for his son to figure things out in his own time, only assisting when his son would look to him for help.   My uncle would watch and have teachable moments with my godson explaining the reason for what was not working, but never grew frustrated or angry.  He was the living breathing example of patience.  
    Now if you are anything like me, you would have given up on the second page of the instructions because it was just too challenging and was taking entirely too long.  I learned that patience goes a long way.  Not just for the task at hand, but it taught his son to be patient with others, with himself and with life.  Things are not always going to “piece” together so easily, but with a bit of patience it becomes bearable and you may learn a thing or two about human connection.
  2. One “piece” at a time.  There is nothing like building a Lego and watching it get knocked over seconds later.  Although, this could be quite upsetting for most my uncle taught me that in the bigger picture this is just a fragment of what you will face.  The pieces may scatter across the floor, but you don’t pick them up in handfuls, yelling and screaming at life expecting it to fit back together.  You take each piece and find where it fits in that moment.  It may take hours, days or even weeks, but eventually it will look like it did before, plus a few extra scuffs.  
    Just like Legos, life will knock you down.  Your emotions and situations may seem to be scattered everywhere, but we don’t have to deal with everything at once.  Take one piece of the situation at a time.  “Put it back together” the best way it fits and eventually you can keep moving forward.
  3. Take the path less “built.”  You know when they say following the instructions leads to the best outcome when building Legos.  Well, I have news for you.  Occasionally, you need to get creative!  My uncle and godson, would usually follow the book step by step, especially on the HUGE Lego sets that were battery operated.  My uncle taught me that some days you have to improvise.  When there is a toddler running around pieces tend to “disappear” and the instruction manual really is not going to help because you don’t have the blue piece with 6 notches.  You only have yellow pieces from your spare set.  My uncle always seemed to make it “work.”  He would never lose sight of the fact that you don’t always need to follow.  It is okay to take the lead and find your own way.  
    In life, there aren’t instructions.  There are “guidelines” to surviving, but we get lost.  We are human.  Create your own path.  It is your life, build it the way it works for you with the “pieces” that you do have, not the ones you cannot find.
  4. Be in the moment.  My uncle would leave the phone and get down on the floor with my godson and build.  He would enjoy the time with his son. Legos are not always something I found enjoyable, but the thing I learned was it isn’t about the actual Legos. It is about who you are in the moment with.  Be present; with your family and friends.  Listen to the conversation that is happening.  Look at what you are creating!  Live for just those seconds in time because you are making memories, not just trying to “finish” a Lego.  Show the other person in the interaction that you are there, you are open and you are making a connection.
  5. Do what you love.  My uncle and godson enjoyed building Legos.  This was their hobby and something that they bonded over.  It was something they both loved and always found time to do.  He gave my godson memories to last a lifetime because each set that they built will be attached to a different moment in their lives.
    My uncle always did what he loved and encouraged me to do the same.  Life is moving so quickly that we often forget to do that one thing we enjoy the most because we don’t have the time.
    I think “Time” is the most important lesson I learned from my uncle.  My mom had said it best this past weekend after his memorial service.  Time is the one thing that you never get back.  Take the time to spend with your children, your friends and your family.  Time will never stop and ticks by so quickly that we often lose track and suddenly an entire life has passed. In loving memory of my uncle- “Stop and take time to build the Legos of your life.”

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