You know how they say you have your most creative ideas away from work? In the shower; during a walk; or when stalking people on Facebook. This kind of brainwave rarely happens to me. In fact, I have a reverse brainwave. In the shower, I have a eureka-moment about different ways to take a shower. Since I can’t elaborate on that here, I will talk about one moment with the Rubik’s cube.
I was fiddling with my Rubik’s cube yesterday and had this colorful tide of existential crisis: I don’t like Rubik’s cubes, at all. I have never liked it and yet I have been solving ‘em for the last three years.
I liked the idea that I like to solve the Rubik’s cube.
To me, anyone who could solve the Rubik’s cube took the first step into genius-hood. So I learned to solve it. Solving the Rubik’s cube made me “that freakin guy can solve the Rubiks’s freakin cube” guy.
More genius please: So, I became “that guy freakin solves the Rubik’s cube in under a minute” guy.
Genius runs in my blood: “that guy can solve even the giant Rubik’s cube. Freakin freakin genius!”
What a freak? How does he do it?
Here’s how: That guy has rote-memorized 20 rather complex combinations really well. It’s this rote memory that helps him solve the cube. The same rote memory that got him through all the Hindi tests at school in spite of not knowing more than six words of Hindi. In his quest to achieve intellectual stardom, the Rubik’s cube was a desperate accomplice.
We all have our versions of the Rubik’s cube. My plan for this blog initially was to learn to programme and develop a blog from scratch. I wanted to be “that freaking guy who wrote the code for his own blog,” not that guy who actually wanted to learn to programme.
The latter is what I have come to call ZNMD.
ZNMD , Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Translate: YOLO) is a movie about three guys who have their own Rubik’s cube moments. There’s a beautiful throwaway line at the end of the movie that had me giddy for a long time.
The line is dropped off when one of the guys (Farhan Akhtar) finds out about his Dad’s existence at the end of the movie and has this conversation with his Dad:
Dad: What do you do?
Son: I write… copy writer…. advertising.
(a pause engulfed by smoke and the slightest cough. Wait for it…) .
Dad: That’s for someone else. Like this painting I just painted. You write for yourself too, right?
The ZMND look
With all of us becoming avid learners largely due to the rise of Online courses and its likes, and the plethora of life choices we have now, it is supremely important for us to separate the Rubik’s cubes from the ZNMD’s.
You learn/do some things because of this erroneous belief that you’ll enjoy it, while what you really enjoy is the idea of other people being fascinated by it. There’s a huge difference, what Paul Graham calls “fossilized inspiration.”
The things I have most enjoyed have been the ZNMD’s – the times when I have written/ learned/read something because its ordinariness truly fascinated no one other than me: writing a poem, reading children’s books or drawing cartoons.
I beleive we should all make pointlessness a priority. A bigger priority should be to sometimes make a point to no one but yourself.
The next time you enroll in that course on mixed martial arts because it sounds impressively cool to tell everyone about it, remember, it may just be the colorful allure of the Rubik’s cube. Your ZNMD is quietly sitting on the park bench in plain clothes. Attend to it before quietness takes over.