I never solved Rubik’s cube. As an ‘80s kid, you can bet I tried. I worked on it obsessively in junior high. One time I got so bad, my Mom had to put a moratorium on it, perhaps because she was sick of seeing the damn thing or she began to doubt herself as a parent and socialization agent when I started bringing it to the dinner table.

I have played with it on occasion over the years. But I never got past the “two layers” I had achieved as a kid. I know I could get the formula from a book or the internet. But that won’t do it for me. I’m not just curious about the answer. I am curious about my ability to find it. A reviewer on Amazon said “It actually doesn’t take a genius. There is a method for solving it, and it is learnable.” Um, of course there’s a method. Nobody thinks it’s done by divine intervention. And the solutions to most problems with known solutions can be learned by diligent non-geniuses. That’s not why people are awed by The Cube.

Once, I borrowed a friend’s kid’s cube; I was down to just four pieces that derided me from a bookshelf the rest of the day. I was afraid to work it anymore for fear of losing what I already had. A childhood toy became an inadvertent metaphor for the settling we do as adults. Some of us become content with someone else’s solution to our puzzle. Some give up the quest or rip it apart in a destructive fit. Others become obsessed with solving it.

Hopefully, the tack most of us eventually learn to take is to keep working on finding our own solution but realizing that some will get there and others won’t and that the real pleasure is in the pursuit.