About sports, friends, school and life, Simon is ambivalent.
But ask him about LEGOs.
Ask any ten-year-old boy about LEGOs. Have you ever asked a ten-year-old boy about LEGOs? Watch as unbridled prepubescent devotion is channeled into small, colorful bits of plastic. No need to ask how or why; the heart goes where it will. To there: to LEGOs.
Not long ago we were in a store browsing the LEGO section. A boy approaches. He's short, on the pudgy side, with auburn hair. He's standing at the end of the aisle listening as we wonder aloud if we should buy a particular police wagon set.
He's quivering. And then he speaks:
The words come in small bursts. It's as if his head is a balloon and someone's letting out the air every few seconds.
"Oh yeah?" I ask. "How come?"
"It's just....cool," he says, breathless. "The mini-figure...he fits in there, and....you can close the door, and....it's just...really...cool."
I carried the boy off to a lab and asked that they bottle him. Actually, I paid for the LEGO set, took it and my kids home, and watched as Simon assembled the pieces only to announce, "This...is...cool."
Passion. Last night, my friend Jill and I watched the film Eat Pray Love, based on Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling book. Gilbert had trekked the world because she had lost her zeal and passion.
"I used to have an appetite for life, but now it is gone," she says. "I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something."
This weekend, our local ToysRUs will hold its annual LEGO Bricktober event. Last year at this time, I walked the kids into the store towards large boxes filled with LEGOs, where they and a handful of other ten-year-old boys built vehicles to be raced down a nearby makeshift ramp.
When parents urged kids to finish up, the children meekly held out their creations, this borrowed bliss, back to the employees.
"Keep 'em--they're yours," said a blue-shirted ToysRUs man.
The group fell silent. Eyes grew wide, and their thought processes, I imagine, went something like this:
--If I can keep this
--I can keep anything I make
--Therefore I should make something bigger.
Suddenly, eight-wheeled cars began appearing on the racetrack. Double-decker buses. As high as you could make a car and still call it a car, these boys did it.
Right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, far from Bali and Naples and the other scenic locations Gilbert visited, passion was born, and I marveled at the sight.