I'm presently in a Dark Age. Or am I? Yes. No. Sort of. Maybe. Yes.

And it's my second one. But because I know I'm in it, does it really count? Yes. No. Sort of... you get the idea.

A Dark Age, for anybody who doesn't know, is that period of disenlightenment when a person has "grown out" of LEGO and not yet discovered the impossibility of that notion. It's the years of inactivity between when LEGO was a toy, and when it becomes a hobby. And until it becomes a hobby, people simply don't realise that it's only a Dark Age, with a beginning and an end.

A lot of people are fortunate or sensible enough not to go through a Dark Age. Their childhood fascination simply matures into an adolescent pastime and then an adult hobby with no interruption. The rest of us aren't so lucky. I'm not sure when my original Dark Age began - I remember owning some Ice Planet sets, not sure which one(s), and the stuff that immediately followed that theme don't ring any bells, so around there somewhere. I still have some of that LEGO, but it's badly eroded by years of rough play and a succession of chew-happy baby siblings, so it's kept well quarantined from my current collection. That bag of yellowed, deformed parts isn't LEGO anymore; it's just a relic from my childhood.

This second Dark Age, though, is different. I've had a good couple of years as an AFOL but financial circumstances have changed so the party's over. A few months ago, I took a long, hard look at where my funds and time were being spent and where I'd have to cut back, and these colourful plastic bricks had to go on the chopping line. I won't sell the collection - for now - but it won't be growing by much, and it's currently packed away in various awkward nooks and crannies. My MOCs are dismantled; most of my minifigure displays are gone. I consciously forced myself into this Dark Age.

But is it really a Dark Age? After all, I've allowed myself two indulgences:

  • Collectible Minifigures. I have an extremely strong collector instinct, I collect all sorts of things and I just can't let these go.
  • LEGO Games. Since I've nobody to actually play these with, again this is down to that pesky collector instinct. I found them to be fascinating parts packs when they first appeared so I ended up getting most of them, which of course lead to getting all of them.

I figured both of those exceptions would allow me to keep my toes inside the door for when my situation eventually rectifies and I can go back at LEGO hell-for-leather. Obviously, I'm also still keeping tabs on the hobby online.

So, the question again: Dark Age, or no? I found my enforced exile remarkably easy to adapt to. I can browse the LEGO aisle in shops without any flicker of interest - if I even visit that section. There are entire areas of LEGO websites - the ones I still bother to frequent - that I used to contribute to avidly, yet haven't entered for months. If it's not discussing collectable minifigs or games, then there probably aren't any posts by me. And the strangest thing is, none of this is forced. From the moment I decided not to be interested, the interest simply evaporated. So, that's a big sign that this second Dark Age experiment has been a success.

But while I might call it a Dark Age, it's really not that dark. Above all the exceptions I listed here is the fact that I now know that LEGO isn't simply a toy to be left behind. I know it's still there in my DNA, probably to resurface some day when things look less grim. So, let's call it a Dusk Age then. Not entirely Dark, but not quite AFOL either.

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