Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Muscle memory

This is completely unrelated to woodworking, but then again... well, maybe it's not.

My New Year's resolution last year was to learn something new, and among the choices I gave myself, learning to solve the Rubik's cube seemed the most "doable" to me.

So I bought a cube and taught myself how do it. It took about a week of playing with it, on and off. Once you get it, you "get it."

And even though I'm somewhat of a math geek, the algorithms baffled me. There's a whiz online- Tyson Mao , who "taught" me how to do it. Check out this video of him, speedcubing.

My best time was about 15 minutes, which is a joke compared to Tyson.

Once I learned how to do it - and believe me, it was a bit of a struggle at first - I promptly put the cube on a shelf and forgot about it.

Fast forward one year, I saw something that reminded me of the cube, so I picked it up again. The biggest surprise? I solved the cube in about 4 minutes.

Which brings me back to muscle memory.

As a woodworker, there are certain things I do over and over. Laying out mortise and tenons. Screwing pieces together, then plugging the holes with solid wood plugs. Cleaning up the edges of boards in preparation for gluing them together. Chamfering with a hand plane. You get the picture.

There's a certain fluidity of motion that comes from doing the same tasks over and over. In fact, I know I'm a better woodworker now that I was ten years ago, or even five years ago. I just do things better. It's all about the dance of motion, and that only comes from muscle memory.

Any you though this blog post was about a Rubik's cube!

Any woodworkers out there want to challenge me to a Rubik's duel?

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