Greetings FOLs. Between my work schedule that is becoming increasingly odd and demanding, all the events planned by my extended family, The Munch’s school, and her other extracurricular activities, (not one of any of the aforementioned would I miss for the world), my desire to sit here and throw some ratings and comments on the works of this site’s great builders, and trying to squeeze out a few hours here and there to actually build something of my own, I am finding that my Pick of the Week feature has become impossible. In fact, I am rarely even home long enough on Tuesdays to put anything together. These things taken into consideration, I am going to have to temporarily suspend this feature. I want to thank all the builders that have allowed me to feature their works over these past months, as well as anyone out there that followed the features. I also want to apologize to those that allowed me to feature their works, but haven’t seen them here yet, as well as to those that may have enjoyed popping in on Tuesdays to see what’s new. If you are reading this and find that you are bummed by this news, bear in mind that I do indeed consider this suspension to be temporary and will pick back up where I left off when my schedule calms down a bit. For the time being, however, I will leave the Picks of the Past here on my page for all to ogle.
I figured that I had been doing this whole LEGO thing for a little over a year and a half now, and it was high time I updated my page intro.
So here it is. I am a manager in a bookstore where I am considered the resident LEGO geek. I have a six-year-old daughter, whom I lovingly refer to as The Munch. She has recently gotten involved in building with LEGO, as well, and she gets better with each MOC. My wife’s capacity for tolerating me baffles me every day. Every time I pick up a new set, or come home with a new cup from the LEGO Store, (and try to explain to her why it was so worth the hour drive to get there), or place a new order with BrickLink, she just shakes her head…supportively. I can’t think of a better way to put it. When she walks into her living room and sees sitting on an end table a half-built spaceship that displaced a houseplant and a decorative globe she supportively sighs and shakes her head. What a wonderful woman.
Now that I’ve gotten that necessary introduction out of the way…
I have made some observations since I’ve picked the brick back up again. I thought that I would share one with you here. As I am an AFOL myself, I thought I would explore a subject that has some personal significance.
What is LEGO to the AFOL?
When I started thinking about this question, a host of answers came to mind. We do art and need the outlet? Not enough. We spend so much time keeping up with our responsibilities that we need to escape for a bit? Sure, but that doesn’t quite say it, does it? So, I started to think about what LEGO means to all the other age-based FOL categories in the game and the answers that I came up with made easy sense to me. LEGO to the KFOL is a toy, plain and simple, and it doesn’t need to be anything else. A KFOL can pick up LEGO and play with it for a while, put it down, pick up an action figure and play with it for a while, then put it down, pick up something else, and something else, and continue this process all day. To the TFOL, LEGO is a combination of the grip that holds on to youth for those that feel they have not yet outgrown it and the stepping into another phase of life for those that believe they never will. It’s an admirable refusal to slip into that Dark Age from which so many of us had to emerge. For the TFOL, adulthood is knocking on the door. I can sympathize, because no matter how well we would like to think that we handled it, or are handling it, or will when the time comes, the step into adulthood is a hard one to take. LEGO keeps things in perspective, and thank goodness it does. Some of the most inspirational MOCs that we see everyday comes from the talented pool of builders that fit into the TFOL category.
So what of this phenomenon that is the AFOL? Not as easy to explain. Way too old for toys, way too wise for wanting to hold on to youth, way too experienced, (depending on how far into adulthood we have moved), to expect that there’s many more great discoveries that we’ll make about ourselves. Maybe it’s just a revisiting of youth. That answer doesn’t satisfy me. We could find many other ways to revisit youth, couldn’t we? Most of them would be irresponsible, sure, but we could ride a roller coaster, play a video game, or drop off the kids and “go out for an adult night” with our spouse and our friends, or even our parents, if we are lucky enough to still have them, now that we have reached an age where being seen in public with Mom and Dad is no longer a social issue. In many cases, we now wish to keep their company, maybe for an instinct we don’t even know we have that tells us that we should probably enjoy the time that we have with them. We know, or are becoming quickly aware, that life goes by too fast. So, why do AFOLs build with LEGO?
That’s the question, isn’t it? It’s not, “What does LEGO mean to the AFOL?” because I would guess that despite the different answers that the individual AFOL could give, from where the answer finds its roots would be very similar.
LEGO, for me, is taking something that is nothing, turning it into something, and then reducing it to nothing once more. Repeat as necessary. It’s freedom. I listen to my daughter who wishes that she could meet some of her favorite cartoon characters. Not a person in a costume, mind you, but the actual character. I have to remind myself not to give her the quick and easy adult answer and tell her that it’s impossible, because she doesn’t want to hear that. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to hear that as a kid. When I was a kid, I wanted to move things with my mind. It may sound funny to some, but I would bet that many of those who have taken the time to read this remember seeing Luke Skywalker think his lightsaber into his hand out of that pile of ice and snow and can probably remember having the same wish. That part of my life is gone, though. I’ve tried and I’ve tried, and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I will never move anything with my mind, but…
I can still build a spaceship.
And that’s it. The AFOL builds with LEGO because it allows us to still have an imagination. It allows us to flex that easily-atrophied-with-age imagination muscle as much as we can. It’s not holding on to our youth, it’s allowing ourselves that creativity that we’ve had since youth, and never lost. We barely have the time for it, so we stay up late. We barely have the space for it, so we keep it all stored somewhere out of the way. Our friends don’t always understand why we do it, so we appreciate them despite the blank stares that we get when we talk about it. We don’t allow any of that to discourage us, because it’s not about any of that anyway. So what is it about?
Why do AFOLs still build with LEGO? The answer is actually very simple.