When I was a youngster, my sister and I shared what may have been the most amazing toy imaginable. We had a huge, hard-side suitcase absolutely FILLED with LEGOs. And yes, before the pedants pounce, I know that LEGO is a brand and thus should be used as an adjective, as in "LEGO-brand plasticky stick-together building block toystuffs." My only homage to the brand (because it was such a killer toy of my childhood) will be the use of all-caps. That should also quiet the compulsive copyeditor within, too.
Okay, digression boy, so that suitcase full of LEGOs. First, to digress again, that sound... talk about sense memory. Pounds of plastic blocks clattering around in a vintage suitcase. Just thinking about it gives me shakes of joy. Sifting through that multicolored madness was pleasure-center overload to the nth degree.
The best thing, though, was the process. You'd get a brand new set that the crazed Danish geniuses (Trivia: LEGO comes from the Danish "leg godt", "play well." Thank you Internets.) had designed to build into a car or a plane or something. You follow the instructions, build the car or plane or thing, and then you get to play with that thing. Awesome, right? But it gets better! You get bored with the car or the plane or the thing and dig into your suitcase to customize it. Pretty soon, your plane has four wings or your car has rocket engines... and you get to play with your customized thing. Awesome squared. Finally, in phase 3, you get bored with your customized car or plane or thing, totally disassemble it, and toss the parts into your suitcase... to be reassembled into something entirely new and different. Too awesome for words.
As I think this through, I realize that everything I ever learned about being a bike mechanic, I learned elbow-deep in that suitcase of LEGOs. Obviously, since my kid sister was also elbow-deep in that thing, I had to learn how to cooperate and share. Think that's not a bike mechanic skill? Try working in a shop with three other grease monkeys all using a limited number of tools. But more importantly, LEGOs taught me to appreciate the creative process. Sure, you can start with a box-stock bike, and you'll have fun with that for a while. But what do you do when you get bored? Go to the suitcase! Tweak the gears! Change the contact points! Add a squeaky horn! Knobby tires! Four wings! Rocket engines! And eventually, you'll get bored enough to make it a parts bike, a.k.a. suitcase fodder for the next amazing creation.
I know some bike-folks think it's silly to spend time in the garage that could be spent out riding the bikes. Not me. That's my play time. Leg godt, indeed.