I always have a fascination for Rubik’s cube. Yes, those 3x3x3 puzzle that no one ever seems to be able to solve. I did give it a shot when I was really young. One time I got lucky and solved two faces. But just like most people around me, I’d never solved it.
Until one day, I told myself, “maybe I should really do this!”
So in today’s age of instantaneous information, I went straight to Google and YouTube to look for answers. With a few clicks, I had the solution, actually many solutions. There’s no more excuse of not knowing how to do something. It’s now all about whether someone is motivated enough to do it or not.
Of course, it’s not easy to go through thousands of guides and solutions on the Internet. While some of them were decent, most of them were downright confusing. I read more. I watched more.
“Why were we playing this when we were kids? This is so difficult!”
As I was about to give up, just like most of the people I know around me did, I stumbled into a video showing the world records of Rubik’s cube solving. These guys solve them in seconds – six, to be precise. Typically, when I see someone do better than me, I come up with excuses for why – perhaps these guys are only good at solving cubes and nothing else.
It makes me feel less small. And giving up sometimes can be the most satisfying thing to do.
Over the the next few days, as I met my friends and family, I couldn’t resist bringing this topic up. It seemed like everyone I talked to has tried the cube at least once before, but no one has ever solved it. This gave me a bit more motivation. The interesting thing was, after I asked whether they have solved it, everyone liked to give me an excuse to why they didn’t.
“No, I only messed around with it when I was young. It’s just a toy, I never really wanted to solve it.”
“Oh, I haven’t solved it but I heard it’s real easy as long as you remember some notations.”
“Some guys can solve it in seconds. Those guys are crazy.”
“I have only managed to solve 5 faces one time”, okay, these are just really bad liars.
The classic sticker-manipulation came up once or twice. People generally were interested to solve it. But no one wanted to say it’s too hard and no one wanted to admit they simply couldn’t do it.
I decided I want to be different, at least this time around. I wanted to be able to achieve this ‘childhood dream’. When people ask me whether I can solve a Rubik’s cube, I want to be able to simply say Yes!
After weeks of practising, finally, one night, I solved it. I’ve devoted so much of my time into such meaningless little kid’s toy. But I knew this is not about a Rubik’s cube. It’s not just a meaningless little kid’s toy.
All our lives we have been told to dream big. But to dream big sometimes can be intimidating. It’s so intimidating that it makes it more convenient to tell ourselves not to do it at all. “Wow, people solved the cube in six seconds.” That just sounds like the perfect reason to not bother ever learning how to do it. But everyone’s different. We don’t need to be compared to every other person in the world all the time. We are only accountable to ourselves. And it’s OK to set the goal to simply solving a cube, regardless how many minutes it takes us. What makes us better—and, more importantly, fulfilled and happier—is that we have achieved something, something that has been our dream for a while. And by starting small, we are actually much closer to getting it done, simply because we’ve started in the first place.
(*This is modified based on an extract of a story I wrote a while back.*)