Moods and Play

One way we make sense of ourselves and our worlds is through what Heidegger calls our moods.3 Moods—joy, boredom, anxiety, bliss, anger—influence and determine how things matter to us. The way we act, listen to others, and reflect on our actions influences our world, and our world in turn influences the ways we act and respond to other people. We are not separate from the world; rather we are always what Heidegger calls being-in-the-world. We do not just find ourselves in situations that we then work to understand; our actions influence the situations in which we find ourselves. For example, suppose we care about animals and children. When we look at a pile of LEGO bricks, we might create an animal hospital and a school. Our concerns and ways of attuning ourselves to the world allow us to see and experience the world.

We do not look at the world neutrally. Rather, the same object appears differently depending on our practical situations and the contexts in which we find ourselves. Whether our building arises through solitary play or building alongside Batman® and Unikitty, moods help determine our sense of what is possible for us and others.

According to Heidegger, humans always look ahead into the future, projecting forward. Yet our past encounters leave their mark on our present experiences and our expectations for the future. Childhood play and being playful link together our present situations, past encounters, and our future horizons. For many of us, our first LEGO building happened at home. Our future creating might arise in different settings with friends or the organized building of a LEGO First league. And yet, these early building experiences—including our emotional connections to past building experiences—remain part of our LEGO memories.

When we are most engaged in building and creating, past, present, and future are connected. Constructing and creating with LEGO toys helps us understand how we are always creating and re-creating, building and constructing our own identities and possibilities. This is especially important for the adult LEGO creator who maintains what one LEGO artist calls “a sense of youthfulness” through creating with childhood toys.4

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