Although I am not proud of it, I got into university on the back of the Rubik’s Cube. I was sixteen when the cube hit the streets of my home town and for the first few months no one at school seemed to be able to solve it. In those pre internet days you had to scavenge book shops and newsagents for information, our local newsagents just happened to have an eight page book on how to solve the cube. There was a girl in school that I was desperate to impress and so I thought, if I could be the first kid in school to solve the cube, I would be a hero to my mates and impress the girl of my dreams.
I couldn’t afford to buy the book so I would spend an hour in the newsagent on the way home from school memorising each section returning home to practice at night. This went on for two weeks until I could solve the puzzle, another week of six hours a night practicing and I could do any cube in under three and a half minutes.
I unleashed my new found skill at school going from classmate to classmate leaving a trail of solved cubes, I was a god and I basked in my 15minutes of fame.
For the first time at school I managed to amaze my teachers, they looked at me with a new found respect. When asked “How did I accomplish such a feat?” and “Did I buy a book”. No I didn’t buy a book (small lie) I just figured it out (large lie). I was forever known at school as the kid to first solve the cube.
Our final exams for university loomed large and I just muddled along without any hope of passing. To my surprise before the exam results were known and places were divvied out I received a shock letter from a University. Each year they hand out early offers based on school work and recommendations and I had been offered a place.
I went into school the next day and spoke to my teachers and they said that “We put your name down for an early offer, someone who can do the Rubik’s cube in three minutes shows exceptional intellect” I was stunned as I thought of the eight page book that someone else had written and I had memorised. Three weeks later my exam results showed that I was no dizzying intellect and in fact struggled to get into the bottom 10%. Clinging to my early offer I marched into the university, without the affection of the girl of my dreams who thought I was a ‘brainiac’ and so ‘not cool’, I didn’t see her or touch a cube again.
From day one at university I felt out of place, every other student had got there through skill and a lot of hard work, I just didn’t belong. I was there through someone else’s hard work, I just copied what they did and well, just arrived. There are many places in life you feel out of place, that work party where everyone seems to be poured into clothes that shouldn’t see the light of day let alone the dark of night. I felt like that when I first went to Church, I mean all of these people are not like me, they belong or deserve to be here. It didn’t take me long to figure out that they were all like me, every one. None of them deserved to be here and all of them got here through someone else’s work. I was introduced to the architect of the solution and a simple eight page book ‘Surrendering Your Life To Jesus’.
Roll on forty or so years and my youngest son brings a cube home and all the memories come flooding back. I sit down with him at the kitchen table and find that after a while I can still solve the cube, he is impressed. Our eyes meet across the kitchen table and I want to give him some fatherly advice about girls, the pressure of exams and the need for belonging, he’s only six so I guess it can wait.