One of the presents Santa gave me this year (after a couple of not so subtle hints) was a Rubik’s Cube.
I used to have a Rubik’s Cube a few years ago and had spent a full week memorizing how to solve it. After thousands of attempts, I finally got to the point where I was able to solve it in about two and a half minutes. I never bothered to try and learn any of the speed methods, I was content with simply being able to solve it The world record is 4.22 seconds, as seen in the video below. It looks like the kind of convention I would go to.
I would routinely keep solving the cube a few times a day, just to make sure I did not forget how to do so. I then got to the point where I could go a week, and then a month or so without solving it, but still be able to pick it up and solve it. It seemed to have become part of my muscle memory, and sometimes it felt like my hands knew what to do more than my brain did.
But then I lost my cube a couple of years ago, and I was curious if my muscle memory was still intact.
Hence the many hints to Santa Claus.
Well, I am sorry to report that my muscle memory, just like my regular muscles, has faded away.
I didn’t remember how to solve even the most basic steps in the process.
So it was literally back to square one.
I’ve been following the instructions and repeating them over and over, and I’ve got about half the steps memorized at this point. But it seems to be taking longer for me to remember the steps compared to the first time I did so.
So I guess the lesson is that if you want to keep your muscle memory in top shape, you’ve got to work it just like your regular muscles.
And in case you are interested, there are some amazing videos of people solving the Rubik’s Cube. Here are some of my favorites. If I start to feel kind of special that I can solve the cube, these videos will certainly put me in my place.
A seven-year od solving it, blindfolded:
Solving three cubes, while juggling!
World record, with your feet: