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How The Rubix Cube Changed My Life

February 21, 2012

I can’t tell you exactly when it was that my fascination with Mr. Rubik’s Magic Cube began.  I remember we had one once when I was little.  I regarded it as one of those things that everyone has but no one knows what to do with.  I grew up in the 80s when the Rubik’s Cube was first born and was at the height of its fame.  The Cube, in my eyes was an unsolved mystery and would remain that way.  Forever.  And that was ok.  I didn’t know anyone that could solve it.

The next phase in my Rubik’s Cube obsession started when I saw The Pursuit of Happyness.  Chris Gardner claims to be able to solve the cube (even though he never has) and in one suspenseful taxi-ride with his entire future weighing in the balance… he solves it.  The solving of that “magic” cube has an impact on the rest of his life.  If you were to say that if Chris Gardner hadn’t solved that puzzle he wouldn’t be where he is today and there wouldn’t be a movie about him… I’d probably agree with you.

Obsession phase three.  Somehow, somewhere I heard of someone who could solve the cube because, get this, they watched a tutorial on YouTube.  Yeah.  Really.  And when I heard that I got a crazy idea.  I thought “If it’s on YouTube… I could watch that tutorial.  I could solve the cube, too.”  I don’t know what came over me.  On my way home that night I stopped at the drugstore down the street and picked up a Rubik’s Cube.

My family looked at me like I was nuts.  Perhaps I should explain.  I’m not what you’d call… smart.  Book smart maybe.  Math smart?  Tech-y smart?  Geometry smart?  Puzzle smart?  NO.  I don’t even do jigsaw puzzles.  Two of my sisters and my dad LOVE jigsaw puzzles.  I don’t have the patience.  I was never into solitaire.  I never got higher in math than Algebra 1.  But there was something about the Rubik’s Cube.  Something about the idea that if I, REBECCA could solve a Rubik’s Cube…  I would never feel dumb again.  Or so I thought.  Honestly, I don’t know what possesed me.

So, the YouTube tutorials were not a myth.  They exist.  I started out watching the one that I had heard about.  Some guy made a video on how to solve the Cube.  He had, like, 12 million views on his tutorial.  12 MILLION.  And almost as many comments from people who were thanking him for explaining it so well.  These people had evidently solved the Cube.  I watched the tutorial.  And promptly got lost.  Very very lost.  Confused.  Distorted.  WHICH WAY IS UP?  My Cube was perpetually scrambled.  Frustration mounted.  I decided to give up. It seemed the logical thing to do.

But then I saw something else.  Another tutorial.”  A 9 STEP tutorial.  I went to this other guy’s YouTube channel and read the sidebar.  He claimed that his method was “beginner friendly.”  Of course, at this point I’m assuming I’m not even a beginner since I couldn’t make heads or tails out of tutorial number one.  Is there a level below beginner?  Basement level?  Sub-basement level?  If you’re even lower than the sub-basement level do the smart people just say to you “Go home, sell your Cube on E-bay.  You’re not smart enough to own it.”  I DID spend $5 on the cube… I decided to give it another shot.  I’d try the “beginner’s method.”

Right away trial #2 went much better.  I actually solved one side of the cube.  WOW.  I mean…  that’s something right?  But, how do you move on to solving another side without messing the first side up?  And if you solve another side then you have two solved sides and you still have to solve 4 more sides without messing up the first two.

But the tutorial I was watching had a strange effect on me.  The guy explaining it was doing such a good job.  He kept saying things like “Don’t worry.”  and “I’ll show you that again” and drawing diagrams and explaining things over and over and showing every single possibility and what to do with every single possibility.  Something about it gave me courage to keep trying.  And trying.  And trying.  And trying…. Maybe it was the Pursuit of Happyness that kept me going.  Maybe, I thought, somehow deep down being able to solve the Cube would change my future.

That was a VERY long weekend.  I worked on the cube Friday night.  All day Saturday.  My family went from giving me amused glances to concerned ones.  “Um, Rebecca?  Maybe you should take a break?”  I knew they were thinking the same thing I was thinking.  The smartest people I knew couldn’t solve the cube.  What made me think could?  Saturday night I kept hitting the same wall over and over again. I could get the puzzle to a certain place.  Almost solved.  Only the top layer to go.  And every time I messed it up.  Majorly.  My eyes burned.  I had to start over again.  I would get to the top layer… and screw it up.  Start over again.  Again, I messed it up.  Just when I would think I had it… It would be scrambled beyond fixing… and I’d have to start over.

Frustration came and sat on my shoulders.  I started breathing shortly.  A huge lump settled in my throat.  You’re not smart.  You’ve never been smart.  Why are you even trying?  You shouldn’t even try doing this smart stuff, you’re just proving to yourself that you can’t do it.  Give up. Give up. Give up.  Why did I keep going?  My sisters tried to help “Um, Rebecca?  Do you think you’re being a little obsessive?  I think you need to take a break?”  They threatened to take it away from me.  Saturday night at midnight I slammed it down.  “I can’t do it.  I don’t know why I tried.”  I ignored my sister’s tortured gazes, swallowed down the painful lump  in my throat, stalked into my bedroom and closed the door on my tears.  I flopped into bed.  And I knew that I had just proved to myself how stupid I really was.

Have you ever been in that place?  When everything you do and think just shows you all your imperfections?  I started affixing all sorts of meaning to my inability to solve that silly game.  As if not being able to solve the Rubik’s Cube was the final straw.  I was now, officially Not Going Anywhere In Life.  I was doomed to live a simple, poverty stricken life.  I mean, obviously I couldn’t solve the Rubik’s Cube, so what good could I possibly do myself or anyone else?  Chris Gardner solved the Cube and changed his life for the better.  I didn’t solve the Cube.  ‘Nough said.

Sunday morning I woke up and walked into the living room.  Only to see that colorful scrambled cube sitting there mocking me.  Or, was it challenging me?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I couldn’t solve the cube.  But, God could.  That guy on YouTube could.  That guy on YouTube was TELLING me how to solve the Cube.  I decided to give it one more shot.  Why?  I don’t know.  I guess deep down I believe God has good things in store for me.  And that belief is stronger than my unbelief. Even when I don’t see it myself and even when I tell myself I don’t believe it.  I realized that if my future really depended on solving the Cube I would never give up so easily.  And I realized that even if I tell myself I’m a quitter, I’m not.  

So, I tried it one more time.  Maybe it was two more times.  I remember my sister walked out of her bedroom and looked at me trying to solve it again.  I heard her sigh as she walked into the next room.  I read the algorithums over and over.  I flipped the sides of the cube.  Red, Green, Blue, Yellow.  Right turn clockwise, Top counter-clockwise, Back 180 degrees, flip, turn, switch, line up the colors.  And then it came.  The final turn.  The turn that 50 times had stared me in the face saying “You did it wrong.  Again.”  But, this time was different.  Left 180 degrees.  And I had it.  6 sides.  All of them a single color.  A beautiful Rubik’s Cube, just the way it came in the package.  Solved.

I don’t know how to explain the emotions of that moment.  I can tell you that they were too much for me to deal with.  I didn’t scream or shout or jump up and down or wake up my sister screaming “I SOLVED THE CUBE!!!!!”  Instead I set the solved cube on the coffee table and went into my bedroom.  And I just thanked God.  Maybe my whole future doesn’t depend on solving the Cube.  I will probably never be in a taxi with a man who could give me everything I need if I could just impress him enough.  I doubt I will ever apply for a job where I can claim “Ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube” as a job qualification.  But, who knows?  Maybe someday.  For now, I know that solving that cube gave me a self-confidence I’ve never had before.  Sure, discouragement still comes.  Solving the Cube didn’t give me automatic knowledge in every subject that “smart people” excel in.  But, I learned something about myself and about God in me.  I learned that I’m not a quitter, because God didn’t make me a quitter and doesn’t intend for me to ever quit anything He sets in my path to do.  I learned that I can do things I think I can’t do if I try, REALLY try, because I have God on my side, and He can give me the strength to do anything.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Susannah permalink
    February 21, 2012 9:55 am

    This is likely the most inspirational article I have ever read. Thank you for being so honest and open, it is truly encouraging! ❤

  2. Susannah permalink
    February 21, 2012 9:57 am

    P.S. I like your new profile pic 😉

  3. February 24, 2012 6:54 am

    Loved 🙂

  4. February 27, 2012 9:15 pm

    Becca, i LOVED this. seriously inspirational, and seriously beautiful.

    “……Maybe my whole future doesn’t depend on solving the Cube.”

    but maybe, in a weird little way, it did. Because breaking through a wall opens up new views & places, no matter how funny looking or odd the wall is.

    • Rebecca permalink*
      February 27, 2012 10:03 pm

      You know, Merrill, I think you’re right. The whole experience changed my perspective on myself enough that it could very well impact my future. I definitely think EVERYONE should learn to solve the Cube. 🙂

  5. April 13, 2014 3:36 am

    I really enjoyed this. Just found it through an image search, but got drawn into reading. You express your feelings of that experience soooo well and soooo honestly, and I love that moment in the (brilliant!) film too. In fact – you make me want to give it a go…:-) I’ll let you know if I dare take that first step, and a buy a cube. Blessings, Harula xxx

  6. satan permalink
    February 5, 2016 10:58 pm

    fuck off with your god shit. 2000 year old talking jewish space ghost….bollocks

  7. July 21, 2017 2:31 am

    Hello, i am also a fans of rubik’s cube. And I like playing and collecting it. I really appreciate your article. Here, I’d like to recommend my website about Rubik’s cube toys to you.


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