The New Meaning of Trying
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
I usually spend my summers playing with the kids, shuttling them to camps and activities, finding time to workout and overdosing on bad television and frivolous books. And this summer was no different. I stay in Atlanta with my in-laws, allowing us extended time to visit with the grandparents and other relatives that never see us because we live 3,000 miles away. And my son stays in the same room his dad used to occupy as a youngster, with the pennants, sports ticket stubs, old Cliff Notes and Smurfs still staring about. And buried in that lovely treasure emerged a Rubik's Cube. I had seen it there before, but was only reminded to pull it down after I took my son to see the classic Karate Kid movie. Watching Ralph Macchio in his zippered nylon jacket reminded me of my years in the '80's, with that same jacket, a Rubik's Cube stuffed in my pocket. An unsolved Rubik's Cube, mind you.
So, those memories and my otherwise wide-open schedule prompted my new desire to finally solve that stupid cube. After 30 years, I mean, why not?
I worked really hard. For like 15 minutes. And I gave up again, with one sad side completed. And I was so angry about it. I angry-munched away at Doritos while I contemplated my inability to work harder at it, and my championship Dorito-munching skills. What happens to our drive to work hard to get something we want? Does it wane because we just don't really want that something in the first place? With greasy fingers, I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down my goal, and why I wanted it.
GOAL - solve the Rubik"s Cube
WHY? - because I hate feeling stupid, and Kevin Miller solved it during recess and he couldn't even address an envelope so what the hell is wrong with me.
Ok. Then I needed to get to work. I decided to work on the cube at least once per day. And I was going to use my resources, too. Google really is the gift that keeps on giving, ain't it?
I worked alone, and consulted Google, and worked alone, and found friends on YouTube with simply marvelous strategies, none of which I had thought of on my own. I sat by the pool and meticulously wrote down each step I was taking so that I could go back if I needed to and try the opposite without losing all of my work to that point. Even with assistance, it took me a while to solve that thing. But I did. I reached my goal. It wasn't pretty, but the goal was met. And it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I didn't feel stupid anymore. I felt like I could do anything....maybe even get past more than 10 colors on Super Simon, or leap to a new high score in Zelda. I'm dating myself, I know.
I tried. I said I was going to do something and I tried and I succeeded. And it felt great. And while I was busy finding new ways to attack the problem and new ways to work through my roadblock du jour, I was not eating Doritos, or engaging in other self-destructive or disruptive behaviors. I was just doing.
What are my other Rubik's Cubes that are just waiting for me to try once again, employing steadfast commitment, unconventional strategy and daily diligence? What else is there out there that I have wanted to accomplish but I thought I couldn't because I thought that my version of trying had already failed? What else is begging for a second or third or 30th approach?
Who knew a life lesson could be found in a silly little cube?