That is my entire childhood, from 6 to 14, summed up in 1 word. No videos games. No action figures. Just a ton of LEGOs.
Because these plastic bricks played such a huge part in my life, I knew it was time to share some of those experiences with you. Here are my favorite 3 stories.
Let me begin by telling you about my first “big” LEGO set. I was 7 years old running errands with Mom and Grandma. Errand days are the worst, right? At least to a kid.
For some reason, we had to go into Goodwill. I was done, I was resistant, I was ready to go home. No more stores! Grandma did her best to talk me into going in.
“Samuel, there is LEGOs in there!”
“But Grandma! Its Goodwill, and there’s no LEGOs in there!”
Of course, she had no idea what was in that store. But it did pay off. I walk into Goodwill, turn left, and behold! There it was, lying on the ground before me.
An unopened, brand new Arctic base LEGO set. And yes, I still have it.
Just looking at this picture brings back a flood of memories. In case you’re wondering, the polar bear was my all-time favorite piece. My second favorite was the coffee mug inside the base (not shown in the picture). Foreshadowing, right?
Let me explain how serious I was about my plastic bricks. By age 8, I had quite the impressive collection of LEGOs.
One Saturday morning, I was in my room playing with my LEGOs (as usual) when my sister walked in. She wanted to play, I said no, and that was the end of it.
Or so I thought.
Before I continue, I have to explain how I organized my instruction manuals. There was this green folder that contained these clear sleeves. Each sleeve held a pristine instruction manual – including the manual to my favorite rocket set.
It was released in 1999 in case you’re wondering…
Anyways, I turn around to see my sister holding all my instruction manuals. Ripped to pieces. Every single one.
Yeah, that was a dark day in the Byers’ household.
My best friends and I have been friends since forever. For a long time, the only thing we ever did together was play LEGOs. That may be an exaggeration, but its close.
I was with them in their room going through their LEGO pieces. At the time, we were all under the age of 10.
Me: “You have so many cooler bricks than I do.”
Seth: “Yeah, but you have more of those computers.”
As we start to build stuff, I see this LEGO “thing” thrown in with all the other LEGOs. I’m thinking:
- I’m building something cool.
- I need some of those LEGOs that are on that “thing”.
Decision: Take the LEGO thing apart. Piece by Piece.
Result? I made Seth’s younger brother Nathan cry. It was something he had taken the time to build. I don’t know why that is so entrenched in my memory, but it is. Sorry, Nathan. 🙂
Looking beyond the toy
As you can tell, I spent a lot time – most of it by myself – building stuff. I’m sure it has “cons”, but let me focus on the “pros”. Yes, I’m sure it exercised my creativity, problem-solving, and who knows what else. But above all, there is one specific thing I appreciate.
Fostering the desire to create.
create vs. consume
As I approached the age of 14, a lot of my friends had put away their LEGOs. While most were consuming video games, tv, and other forms of media, I was creating.
I didn’t think much about until I was in college. One of my favorite professors asked a question I will never forget: “What will you be known for? Will you be defined by what you consume or by what you create?”
It was at that moment I knew that I did not want to be defined as a consumer. I wanted to be a creator. And for that, I am grateful to not just my professor, but also to LEGO.
Thank you, LEGOs. Thank you.