Why I Learned How To Solve A Rubik’s Cube

When originally thinking about this post, I wasn’t sure whether to write it or not. Rubik’s Cubes aren’t really games; however, they kind of are at the same time. On one side, they have a very different mechanic to normal games. There are no cards, no dice, and no board for starters. That being said, they are a challenge, a puzzle, and are considered a toy. So here we are, a post about why I learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

So, what is a Rubik’s cube? Well, at its base level it is a 3D puzzle based around a multicoloured cube. There are six faces, each made up of nine smaller cubes. These twist and turn to mix up the order of the colours. The trick is knowing how to get them back again (without picking the stickers off).

I have learned this black magic, the skill of solving a Rubik’s Cube, and I did so for two reasons. These I shall creatively call “Reason A” and “Reason B”.

Reason A: The Reason I Tell Everyone

The place I work in is a creative environment. It is filled with highly talented and creative people, each doing amazing things and incredible work. To encourage our creativity there are books, posters, games and toys everywhere you look, from bobble heads, to pool tables, to superhero masks. We even have a “The Who” themed pinball machine. Due to the environment we always had a Rubik’s Cube or three knocking about the place to help spur the creative mood. The problem was no-one knew how to solve them.

So, one day, during a lunch break, I decided to use an online calculator to fix them. For those stuck with cubes, there are programs you can use online for solving a cube, where it will take you through the process step-by-step. After around 60 minutes I had solved two of the cubes. It was good going, until I put them down and someone messed them up again when I went to the toilet. I came back, sighed, and in that moment I gave up with the cubes.

That was until we moved office. When we came across the cubes again someone remembered they had seen me solve them and so placed them on my desk. This time I wasn’t going to be fooled, so I ordered a new cube (the ones at work were rusty) and decided to learn how to solve it. It took me two weeks of constant fiddling to get the combos right (which, coincidentally, is how long it took Erno Rubik – although, I did have the instructions, whereas he was  writing the instructions which is a subtle difference). That seemed like a better investment of time than going about the Rubik’s Cubes the hard way again. That way if they got messed up again I could simply undo the damage.

If you see what I mean.

Now they litter my desk, cube after cube, of various types and in various states of being solved.

A nice, neat, solved Rubik’s Cube.

Reason B: The Real Reason

Solving a Rubik’s Cube, and this is where it gets a bit more philosophical than being tired of seeing messed up cubes on a daily basis, proves that you can. It proves that you have the tenacity and ability to learn something that is actually fairly hard to do. That, in a way, is incredibly valuable, proving that where there is a will there is a way.

Being able to solve a Cube empowered me to know that I can stick with a project I start, knowing I can fiddle with it and get faster on a daily basis. It allowed me to know that I can teach myself new things even now, after university and after deciding upon a career path. Learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube is something that becomes muscle memory and thus it is something I don’t believe I will forget. I always have it to go back to when I need to know simply that “I can”. From a personal perspective, it is the embodiment of the physical willpower to better myself. It shows me, in one 3×3 cube, that no goal is entirely out of my reach.

On a daily basis the cube is a reminder that I have a skill I have taught myself. Anxiety and worry go away as it becomes zen to twist and turn the dials. Not everything in the real world makes sense, but knowing that a cube has a set formula is kind of existential. It is order in a chaotic world.

That and it’s a fun thing to do.

Learning how to solve a cube has given me so much in such a strange and unexpected way. There are so many things that it has empowered me to do since that now, when I have a slow day, I just pick one up. They are therapeutic, and often help me think my way through other problems. Thinking ahead, I may review individual cubes on this blog every now and then, but until then all I can do is encourage you to pick up a cube and fiddle.

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