Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lego Therapy for Tired Brains

2016, right? But nah, this is about appreciating something good that happened.  

A couple of weeks ago a handful of Danish students visiting Tanzania from Vallekilde Hojskolle (lets pretend I spelled that right) took some time to sit with me in Mikocheni and shoot the breeze about feminism, religion, politics, individual agency and other light-weight matters. Their coordinator, Pia, had cultural exchange in mind.

It was a wonderful experience. I won't lie: there is something always daunting about facing a roomful of skeptical and expectant students and no matter how many times I do it, it is never an easy ride. But it is always a superbly enriching encounter and a challenge to any complacencies that have crept up on me over time. I honestly get depressed that governments are not routinely run by youth. 

Anyways, one of the things that I learned is that Lego is not a Swedish company as I had always believed ( sorry about that). As a generous gift for my time I was given a goodie bag which consisted of a  handcrafted, hand-printed bag with a map of Tanzania on it that made my crunchy-grainy hippie soul deeply, deeply delighted. They also gave me two types of liqorice that I have not yet been able to con anyone into taking. The most disgusting candy in the world can be hard to pass along once people have encountered it even once in life, but christmerrybuystuff is around the corner and someone is going to get it.*

Best of all, I got given a Lego set. My very own, make-three-kinds-of-cars, aged 6-12 Lego set. Ugh! People, I cannot stress enough the importance of play** in adult life. This month a variety of personal and intellectual challenges have come up that are taking some energy to digest. After a deluge of information, forwards and reversals and lateral developments I found myself looking for solace and meditative enabling to walk through some thinking. Writing looks simple but the further I venture into it with time and experience,  the more it humbles me. 

So I am playing Lego. It is three-dimensional and technical and non-competitive, which is helping me to travel through the complexities of a current intellectual challenge. It is soothing, beautiful in design and canny enough to allow one to build structures of incredible intricacies from teeny-tiny bits. Best of all it is fun, accessible to all ages and a surprisingly effective meditation aid.  This is not an ad, but if you are going to give a kid of any age a thing this end of year, consider some building blocks. Or liqorice, if you are that kind of monster ;)

* Dear family and beloved friends: consider it an act of love-slash-lets-start-a-regifting-tradition-because-nobody-actually-wants-it. Yay! That's all the warning I am going to give. 

**Actually it's a thing for me right now. If you smirked at that last sentence, you should wash your filthy mind out with soap.  The role of humor and play in creativity and social life is beginning to fascinate me no end: why does the world restrict these intellectual tools to "childhood" only. I'll get around to ranting about it if I ever get around to reading the literature about it. But if you can, whenever you can, throw off the mantles of adulthood and just build something with your hands without a care as to whether it is useful.  

A little birdie told me...

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