At One With the Solution
by Cynthia Sue Larson
August 28, 2000

bead puzzle

I recently visited a friend, who loaned me a bead and rope puzzle that had been sitting around her house unsolved for many years.

she said with a hopeful lilt to her voice as we said our farewells.

I brought the deceptively simple puzzle with me inside my parents' house, where it quickly became the center of attention. As one person after another tried to solve the puzzle, I waited outdoors until the excitement died down. About an hour later, I was delighted to enjoy my first private inspection of it.

This puzzle was elegant in its simplicity. It consisted of two beads on separate loops a rope that was firmly connected to a piece of wood at each of its ends. There was a hole in the center piece of the puzzle from which the ropes emerged into the separate loops for the two beads. The solution to this puzzle was illustrated on the back of the wooden piece as a picture of the two beads adjacent to one another on the same loop of rope.

I immediately sensed something about this puzzle... I could feel the solution to it as clearly as if I was holding the solved puzzle in my hands. Suddenly I knew that if I just held that image in my mind, I could manipulate the beads and rope until the beads were side-by-side. I was not closely studying every move I made, but was instead in a state of being at one with the solution to the puzzle.

Within ten minutes, I'd solved the puzzle, and the two beads were resting together on the same loop. My family was astonished to see the puzzle solved so quickly, and wanted to know how I'd done it. I simply replied,

I got looks of disbelief and some annoyance at this remark, but I didn't know how else to convey my feeling of being harmoniously attuned to the solution. They wanted to see me solve the puzzle, but I knew that any audience watching me so closely when I couldn't even watch what I was doing myself would block me from being able to solve it.

I felt so aligned to the puzzle that solving it felt instinctive to me, as if I'd worked this puzzle successfully hundreds of times and could use motor memory. There was some truth to that, since my mother had brought home several similar topographical puzzles when I was a teenager, and I'd spent many enjoyable hours playing with them.

When my family's attention was once again diverted elsewhere and I had another quiet moment to work unobserved, I moved the beads back apart from one another again. This time, I paid a bit more attention to how I was manipulating the ropes and beads, so that I would be able to help my family solve the puzzle, too.

When my family saw the puzzle back in its original starting state, they were astonished once again, and asked how I'd solved the puzzle. I repeated, "I was at one with the puzzle", smiling as I said this, since I saw how my enigmatic response made little sense to anyone.

As I showed my family the steps required to move one marble to the other side, I realized:

The steps to doing this are simple:

This reminds me of the wonderful adage:

lest we get so caught up in what we think we know
that we can't see the world as it really is.

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