I know that I’ve previously posted about how I spend some of my free time: shadow puppets, comparing South Africa to Harry Potter, inventing horrific meals with my limited ingredients, reading my Baba’s World Encyclopedias, melting crayons onto canvas, etc. Well, I have a new pastime that I’d like to add to the riveting bunch of bouncing-off-your-seat activities… I was in Durban on New Year’s Eve, walking around a junk store looking for anything to add to my Rocky Horror outfit when I saw it and was captured: the Rubik’s Cube. Mhmm, Mama’s getting mathematical. This little 3x3x3 coloured cube can leave you with a head full of hot, intelligent air or feeling completely
hollow, dumb, and frustrated. It’s potentially the tiniest device I’ve ever come across that’s just teeming with life lessons: it teaches you to plan, to colour coordinate, to think outside the box (teehee), to logically set goals, to step back and see the bigger picture, to use different angles, and to keep yourself centred (sorry, the puns are too good to pass up). For all of these reasons, I don’t think I could’ve stumbled across this thing at a better time in my life…and now I’m that crazy chick who mumbles to herself and fiddles with a cryptic plastic box by candlelight. Sweet.
Not just being a personal puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube has also morphed into a conductor of connectivity within the village. I’ll watch a cluster of kids explaining the concept and importance of integral colour pieces to newcomers, fellow taxi riders pass it around while speaking in hushed, confused Zulu, and it’s even helped my reserved 17-year old brother Kwazikwakhe come out of his shell a bit. It’s helped me connect with part of my community but it’s also aided me with my personal micromanaging issues… when I
purchased it, I promised myself that no matter how far I got with solving the Cube, if someone asked to try it, I would let them. Now, I’m no algorithms genius (but I have recently looked up articles about it – nerd alert) so I haven’t ever gotten super far with this darned puzzle, but it does take a deep breath and a teeth-grinding smile to hand my six-coloured, square-shaped gem over to an inquiring kid. The slight control freak in me has been long-trained – my Mom always told me I had a “me do it” attitude ever since I was dressing myself in, er, creative attire and I can remember always wanting everything perfect, completed, and symmetrical when I was younger (this changed a bit when I went to college but, nonetheless, some bottleneck issues remained). Something that was broached during PST, and that I’ve come to see firsthand, is the idea that simply “doing” isn’t nearly as sustainable as teaching to do or even doing alongside…the whole “give a man a fish/teach a man to fish” thing. So, in surrendering the Cube when someone else wants to try, I’ve been able to ease up a bit in my controlling ways, watch someone grow (and have fun!) through trying something new and intimidating, and have fully concluded that if this particular cube-shaped enigma of my service is never solved – it’s okay. I’ll have gained perspective, made deeper relationships, and learned tons more if I go back to America with a dirty, fingernail-scratched, messed up puzzle than with a shiny, lonely, completed one…