Wednesday, July 13, 2005

LEGOs: Life's Philosophical Metaphor

A friend suggested I write about my fascination with LEGOs. She says my predilection for collecting and assembling LEGOs is probably indicative of some deep-seated philosophy of life that includes these building blocks as a metaphor for something. She may be right. (On the other hand, she should meet my sister whose LEGOs collection far outstrips mine in scope and variety. I wonder what her philosophy or metaphor would be?)

The bulk of my LEGOs collection is the result of that entertainment phenomenon known as "Star Wars." I have two TIE fighters, one X-Wing, the Millenium Falcon, and various smaller Star Wars LEGO pieces. And the other day, the LEGOs catalog arrived with THIRTEEN—count ‘em—THIRTEEN pages of Star Wars LEGOs paraphernalia! I almost hyperventilated with joy!

Of course, Star Wars LEGOs aren’t the only ones I would like to have. There are some pretty cool train sets, too, that could be fun. But I digress…

What do LEGOs have to do with life? What is the metaphor? The buried philosophy?

You start with a bazillion pieces, a book of instructions, and a picture of what the end result should be. The only connection I can find to life is limited and discordant. With life, you start with a bazillion pieces—only you don’t get all of them all at once, like you do with LEGOs. You get a bunch to start out with, but then you go through life being offered others, finding some here and there, having to pick between one piece or another, discarding some, cherishing others, regretting that one, worshiping this one and all in an attempt to come away with some kind of structure.

And where LEGOs gives you a book with step-by-step instructions for getting to the end, life doesn’t hand you a guide book (unless you’re devoutly, religiously orthodox and then you’ll say that the scriptures or your holy book are your guide, but we’re going to assume that either a) you’re not devout, religious, or orthodox or b) you were once one or all of these, but you’ve since disaffiliated and you don’t buy most of that rigorous stuff anymore.) You have all these pieces and you have to decide how they’re all going to go together. And in the end, where the LEGO book tells you what you’ll have built, what you actually end up building when you have all your blocks from life all together generally ends up being somewhat of a total surprise to you.

Perhaps the metaphor or meaning or philosophy or whatever to be had in LEGOs is that only LEGOs can be so neat and tidy and full of “closure” with a perfect end product. Perhaps LEGOs represent the ultimate object wherein we can control the orderliness of the universe.

Life, on the other hand, is messy and unpredictable and out of control and full of spontaneity and choices. It's a landscape with all those things that make you who you are. You may have started out wanting to be or build the Millenium Falcon, but what you ended up with looks more like a mosaic of colors and shapes and people that can't be pushed into any one particular place to fit one particular mold. LEGOs are meant to be square blocks fitted into more square blocks. Life is about enjoying the square pegs, the round holes, and inventing ways to have the two co-exist in a way that leaves us with peace and contentment when it's all over, said, and done.

Now move over and pass me that eight block...

1 comment:

Adriana Velez said...

Wow, you're into legos and Star Wars -- who knew? You keep surprising me, Janet! I dig your philosopy of legos. Legosophy.