Mental Assembly Required

Since deferring from my studies until the end of COVID-19, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands to relax, focus on a bit more leisure, and clear my head of the complete insanity that has been 2020.

It’s been incredibly hectic and often I’ve found myself needing to shut off from the overwhelming grim reality we’re currently facing. Even with New South Wales (at time of writing) doing well with cases, life hasn’t truly returned to normal, and I doubt it will ever truly be “normal”. This is the new normal.

I’ve found solace in the last 6-7 months in rediscovering old hobbies and doubling down on friendships. Bonds with both hobbies and friends have become stronger during these (and yes I’m going to say the clichĂ© line) unprecedented times.

A particular hobby I’ve very recently gotten back into in a big way is LEGO. I grew up with LEGO, it was pretty much all I needed in life as a child. Every birthday, Christmas, gift, was LEGO related. I’ve gone in and out of LEGO buying since becoming a teenager, but it’s always there in my mind.

My relationship with little plastic pieces has been important throughout my life. During my many hospital visits, medical procedures, surgeries, loss of loved ones, and tough periods in school – LEGO was there. When I had my first surgery in October 2012 what kept me motivated and happy was knowing that back at home I had LEGO to build. On my day releases before and after surgery I’d dedicate time to building sets and it was a happy place.

As I’ve matured, that feeling of a happy place when building has probably only increased and become more strong. During my second surgery, for which I was in hospital over my birthday, I was comforted knowing I had something to do while recovering.

That year I got a set called the Old Fishing Store, which had 2000 pieces. I love the aesthetic of Maine and New England seaside towns so this was a perfect fit. It’s still one of my favourite sets I own, partly for sentimental reasons of it being a set I can pinpoint and say “this is proof Jamie survived surgery and was better off for it”.

I mostly like buying stuff that looks good on display as I’ve gotten older. As anyone who’s been inside my bedroom or even just around my house would know, there’s a lot of stuff we have on display. It makes me feel at home.

Earlier this year for my birthday I got my first Modular Building – a Bookshop, from a series of expert level LEGO sets. They’re all large and over 2000 pieces. I recall building it being one of the best weekends I’ve had to myself.

I bought two more from that series since then and my god they’re addictive. The right level of challenge, incredibly satisfying builds, and usually 6+ hours to build. I built the sets over a series of days so I could spread out that enjoyment as much as possible.

When I build, I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, put music on, and fully focus on what I’m doing. No outside distractions. Proper me time that lasts a good amount of time, allowing me to both build and think about things in life. Highly therapeutic.

Even better, my last two builds have coincided with the release of the new Killers album – Imploding The Mirage. I love the album so far and played it constantly when building. I can now doubly associate that album with brilliant experiences.

The building periods really helped me clear my head and gave me time to seriously think and find out things about myself.

For some people, LEGO is probably seen as childish or just a children’s toy. While I agree LEGO is usually predominately designed for children, who cares. Open yourself up and allow yourself to reexperience that childlike wonder of building LEGO. Put on some music, shut off from the world, and just build. You won’t regret it. In grim times in which being aware of the world around you is incredibly important and also daunting, you need time to escape that.

And yes, my bank account is not looking so good after rediscovering LEGO again…

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