Learn to Solve a Rubik’s Cube

All the kids in the mid 80’s were doing it. I just missed the bandwagon. Well, I didn’t totally miss the bandwagon, I did actually own a Cube. One was given to me as a gift, which is probably a familiar story for people who were children in the 1980s. However, I never even tried to figure the damn thing out. I did disassemble it In the pantheon of notable icons of that generation, Pac-Man and the Rubik’s Cube is way up there. If the graphics on the back of children’s cereal boxes are to be believed, the Rubik’s Cube was part of a totally gnarly lifestyle that includes skateboards, spiky hair, and shoulder pads. Viva 1980s, dude.

List item: Learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

To get this list item rolling, I ordered a cube, making sure not to get a knock-off. The Hasbro model moves like butter compared to the knock-offs I’ve tried in the past. The cube arrived on a Sunday and I barely opened it before deciding I had no hope of figuring it out on my own (that’s not the point), so I started watching a Youtube video called, “Learn How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube” by J Perm (I just call him ‘J’, since I watched this video enough times that I think we’re close).  It sounded easy enough to follow, so I decided to spend a couple hours the next day watching, repeating and eventually solved my first cube. From there, I took notes, practiced and eventually was solving the cube- except when I tried to video myself doing it. Seriously, I tried 5 different times and screwed-up every time.

This morning I went outside and videoed this:


All told, I spent probably about three hours practicing and screwing-up video attempts. In the video above it took me about 5 minutes (which I truncated for length). I have no interest in trying to get super fast at it, which is its own competitive sport. I don’t have the dexterity, mind, or patience to get to the point where I could solve one in under a minute, let alone a few seconds.

Take that, 1985!

Difficulty: Medium rare. There is one primary move and 4-5 situational moves that can be confused when you aren’t well-practiced.

Lessons learned:

  • Small successes matter! – On the whole, learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube didn’t take a long time, but it required patience and resolve as well as scratching in itch in a different part of my brain than if I’d spent the time watching TV. It’s not much, but I did get a boost from a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Use it or lose it – A few months went by after I first learned to solve the cube. I used to keep it next to me where I usually sit on the couch in the living room, but moved it as part of a “shame cleaning” before guests came over one day. I rediscovered it and to my horror, couldn’t remember the last few moves. I had to look them up (realized I had them reversed). The point is, this is not like riding a bike, where they say you never forget.
  • The cereal boxes lied – I’ve got to say, knowing how to solve a Rubik’s Cube did not make my life any more extreme. I did not become rad. My hair didn’t spike and the chicks did not throng. If anything, it only added to my ‘nerdlinger’ tendencies.