hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

16 September 2012

4 x 4 Rubik's Cube

Freshman year of high school, I took the bus home from school on the days I didn't have wrestling practice. My school was a mixture of rednecks, trailer trash, suburb rats, and commercially-zoned apartment dwellers. I came from Marne, the little hick town who's only attraction was the Berlin Raceway--the redneck hive. When I hopped on the cheese-wagon after school, I was engulfed in troublesome territory for an hour. I was the final stop. The last one off the bus. While the rest of my suburb friends got on their well-behaved bus back to their neighborhoods, I sat on the weed-reeking and profanity-rampant bus to Marne. Kids hopped over seats and punched one another. Passers-by were given the finger and the poor bus driver was cursed at incessantly. Middle-school boys boasted about their 'new' quads and janky dirt-bikes while high school girls whined about drama and called the flirtatious bad boys bastards but agreed to hand-jobs in the back of the bus. While some got real action, perverts pulled out the pornos and emo-kids scraped patterns into their forearms. I shrunk in my seat, next to the strange kid who read about Russian bombs and smelled like rotting pumpkins. He never talked and neither did I. While he read about bombs, I pulled out my Rubik's cube. It was a way to pass the time and dissolve from the world of hooting rednecks. For weeks, I played with it until I learned the algorithms. I scribbled them onto scraps of paper until I had them memorized. By the end of the school year, I could solve it in under a minute.

As years passed and I got my driver's license, I no longer needed to ride the cheese-wagon. I began to master the cube on my own as I formed an identity and discovered who I was in high school. It wasn't as complicated, for it was only a 3 x 3. I knew I was neither a redneck, trailer trash, suburb rat, or any of that. I was a nice and intelligent guy who was too afraid to talk to girls.

Having thought I had known who I was, I left the cube aside for a while until I entered college. My freshman year at the university was a fresh start. Yet little did I know how little I knew about myself. In previous years, there was less to figure out. There were only three layers of cube to solve, it was much simpler, more basic. But now I needed to delve into a whole new level of understanding. My uncle bought me a 4 x 4 Rubik's cube for Christmas. Like my life, there was a greater complexity in solving this puzzle. There were new dimensions to explore and nothing to center it around now that I was on my own. At home, I could center my morals on those of my family, and have something to revolve my life around. But now, I had no center. I had to figure out how to orientate myself with the world. Before I could solve the greater complexities of the cube, I needed to find my core beliefs. I could arrange my religious and political views for something to go off of, but I needed to constantly adjust them with changing circumstances.

Mimicking my freshman year of high school, my freshman year of college involved me sitting on a crowded bus with engineers, musicians, late-night partyers, and graduate students toying with a puzzle and trying to figure out who I am. Yet again, I was none of them. I ended up solving the 4 x 4 cube by the end of the year, having cycled through many difficulties and gaining a greater understanding of myself. But like high school, with three years still ahead of me, I have time to work things out and master the 4 x 4 as I had the 3 x 3 in the simpler stages of life.

I can only imagine what it will be like to solve the 5 x 5. Maybe by then I will have a greater knowledge of how to approach this situation and task. As each stage of life cycles through, more challenges test our character and understanding of the world. We must learn to pick up each puzzle we are given and see where our colors lie. Being aware of this changing state gives us potential.
One day I may solve the 7 x 7, but for right now, I need to work on the 4 x 4.

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