A Few Moves Away from Perfection

When I was 11, I got my first Rubik’s Cube.

As all brand new Rubik’s Cubes do, it arrived in its already solved state. Every square was precisely positioned to ensure that the colors of each of the six sides of the cube were homogeneous.

In order to play with the cube, you need to mix it up by repositioning the squares. You may one day be able to return it to its perfected condition. Or, you may not.

There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 quintillion ways to scramble the Rubik’s Cube. In fact, if you turn the Rubik’s Cube once every second, it will take you 1.4 trillion years to go through all the permutations.

There is a very real possibility that the unscrambled cube may stay forever imperfect. But you’ll never know unless you disrupt it.

Some never touched their cubes. For decades, many cubes have sat on shelves undisturbed and perfect.

At first, I hesitated to muddle mine. What if it remained imperfect forever?

But, if I never disarranged it, I’d never get to experience the fun in playing with it or the challenge in solving it.

Since I was only 11 years old, I had time on my side. I figured I had at least 1.4 trillion years left to figure this thing out.

So, I went for it and messed up my cube pretty badly. The colors were all over the place. No square was where it should be.

I couldn’t put it down.

It wasn’t long before I figured out how to get one side. Then two. Then three.

Then I got to four. At this point I was scared to make a move. I was fearful that in my quest for all six sides, I would destroy the accomplishment of obtaining four sides.

But, my parents promised me a Jim Dandy Ice Cream Sundae from Friendly’s if I completed all six sides. And hot fudge is a very powerful motivator.

Shortly thereafter I solved the six sided puzzle. I don’t remember the exact moves it took me to get there. It kind of just happened.

The other day, my daughter handed me her scrambled Rubik’s Cube and asked me to solve it. Although it has been a while and I now have a lot less than 1.4 trillion years left, I decided to give it another go.

When I realized that I was just a few moves away from perfection, it occurred to me that the Rubik’s Cube is a lot like life. It’s more enjoyable when you mess it up every once in a while.

76 blog posts down – 289 left to go…

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