While browsing through an estate sale last week, a brightly colored object caught my eye. In the midst of a jumble of knickknacks, magazines and candles, the shape of the item was stark in its simplicity.
I am a lover of puzzles, from crosswords to jigsaw, and will tackle that Cracker Barrel golf tee game every time I go. I loved doing the Jumble in the newspaper each day when I was growing up and could usually complete it in under five minutes. I can even make my way successfully through a Sudoku puzzle, though those take me a little longer.
But I had never seen anything like this puzzle before. I am familiar with the challenge of a Rubik's cube, but this was slightly different — a Rubik's pyramid with triangles of blue, orange, green and gold. Truly vintage by now, the puzzle takes some effort to twist its individual plastic pieces around in an attempt to place all the triangles of the same color on a single side.
I picked it up, remembering the many times I had tried and failed to solve my father's Rubik's cube. Surely this would be different — easier, I thought — with only four sides instead of six.
I paid the two dollars asked for the pyramid puzzle and took it back to work, sitting it on my desk. I would fiddle with it when waiting for my computer to upload pictures or having a spare moment between phone calls and deadlines.
That was a week ago, and the silly thing stills confounds me.
My mother and I spent two years putting together a 4,000 piece puzzle depicting the ubiquitous image of Neuschwanstein castle. With only nine triangles of color on each side, it should not take me nearly long to solve something as simple as a pyramid.
True, my brain tends to work better when solving word or logic puzzles. Spatial sense is difficult for me to grasp. I seem to recall geometry being one of my worst subjects in school.
But I am tenacious. I appreciate a challenge, and can be a little competitive — just ask my siblings — when it comes to wanting to be the first to find the answer to a problem.
In life, it is not as simple as rotating pieces of plastic to make things fit together well.
Like many people, I would rather have a comfortable and predictable routine, with advance notice of any events that will rock the balance of my life. If I were running the world, everyone would promptly return phone calls or emails, use their turn signals and let you know two weeks in advance before dropping by your house.
We all have a picture of the ideal life in our head, and are often willing to make small changes to make that dream a reality, but making bigger changes — decisions that have a real impact on our everyday actions — are harder to implement. Often, we take an inordinate amount of time to weigh the pros and cons before setting out to change something that we fear will take hard work, sacrifice or the loss of relationships.
Change is inevitable and necessary. Sometimes it is thrust upon you without warning and sometimes you can initiate it yourself. Being willing to accept the consequences of change is a mark of maturity.
Of course, there is the fact that life will never be the idyllic journey we envision. But that does not mean we should get too comfortable in where we are now, accepting things that can and should change.
Whether it is a small change or a large one that is needed in your life — making a small move or starting over from scratch — do not let the fear of failure stop you. After all, the game clock is ticking.
Just like life, I will keep trying to solve the Rubik's pyramid. Or maybe I will give it to my dad for Father's Day.