Life: Cubed


Life: Cubed

In my last post, I discussed the concept of homeostasis and began to touch on the search for homeostasis during our journeys here on Earth. Psychologists use the term “homeostasis” to refer to “a state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension or a drive has been reduced or eliminated.” Many of the spiritual-minded who read this column will hear the echoes of Buddha in this definition, as Buddha posits in his teachings that desire is at the root of all suffering. To achieve psychological homeostasis, one must release the tension and the drive to succeed—one must release expectations. Similarly, to achieve spiritual homeostasis, one must release desire, which is a product of fantasies, expectations, and living in the future.

Let us look at life today like a puzzle—like a big Rubik’s cube. All of the facets of your life, all the multicolored squares of your existence, have the potential at every moment to line up as if by magic, but most of the time, you have to experiment with many, many permutations, many different scenarios, before you can convince those multicolored squares to fall in line perfectly. According to, there are approximately 43 quintillion permutations in a Rubik’s cube, meaning if we had as many 6 centimeter-large Rubik’s Cubes as there are permutations, we could cover the surface of the Earth 275 times.

There are 43 quintillion possibilities in a Rubik’s cube—and it seems like a daunting task when you first approach it, if you have no strategy. However, if you try hard enough and for long enough, you will solve it. Anything with hands or tools to shift the planes of the cube could eventually solve it. The squares will line up and fall into place with a click just like you want them to. Unfortunately, first you need to get many sides of the cube incorrect while you get other sides right, all while you’re trying to figure out what makes the cube work . That is a perfect microcosm for life—you’re seeking balance the entire time you are here.

A Rubik’s cube with each side a consistent color is in homeostasis—but it is also a singularity, a rare occurrence, one in 43 quintillion. More often than not, the Rubik’s cube exists in a state of flux where each row of tiles is zinging by the other rows as you seek that perfect balance. To find balance is rare, although we put this premium on balance like it should be our default. No, our default is chaos. We are human. We were created to screw up. That’s what we do best. Our karma is achieved in how we recover from those screw-ups. Our destiny is defined by how we bounce back from the imbalances, from the misaligned events. When we do not screw up, we should reward ourselves for it, yes, but when we do screw up, we should recognize it for what it is. Life. The natural order of things. This is where compassion is born. Compassion is born of knowing that we are more chaos than we are order and that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Balance is to be sought after, yes, and treasured, but that does not mean you cannot find peace in imbalance or accept imbalance in others. Knowing that we are all always only a step away from the inevitable breakdown, the fated unraveling, gives you a sense of companionship with the rest of the human race.

As humans, we often obsessively seek order. Who has not known someone with a disorder that causes them to check the door lock 14 times before leaving, or someone who controlled their caloric intake to a dangerous degree, or someone who cleans compulsively to the detriment of health and normalcy? Even in order we find chaos, when we become too orderly and it rules our lives, creating chaos outside the boundaries of the order we have instilled. The obsessive search for order is a search for a singularity that may always elude you.

Similarly, in chaos, we can find order. In the unraveling of a life can come helplessness, a removal of agency, that allows a person to throw up his or her hands and start fresh. There is no place like rock bottom to give someone a new beginning, a chance to do it all from scratch. Even when we fall apart, and it seems like all is lost, and a life is lost, nature reasserts her order, breaks our bodies down and uses our molecules to fuel something new, and that energy lives again.

True spiritual homeostasis, true spiritual balance, is about trial and error. The boy who inspired this column is a stranger to me—he was rolling through 4 Rubik’s cubes in varying color schemes like they were easy, and I was fascinated by his genius. Unless you’re a genius at the Rubik’s cube of life, then you need to accept that having a strategy and then accepting the reality and consequence of trial and error are the only path to authentic peace and balance in this life.

Some part of each one of us will always be out of balance—the lines of our Rubik’s cube rarely all line up simultaneously. It is more likely that you will have most of the colors of each side showing the way they should, with a few stray lines still poking through. While we seek the peaceful balance we all long for, what if along the way we also chose to accept each version of ourselves that we twist into existence? Every click of the cube brings a new you–and there will be many permutations of the cube in your lifetime.

What if you accepted each permutation as perfect, as part of your journey toward balance?

What if you accepted you, just as you are, while also allowing for new permutations of you to be born with every twist of your story?

In love and light—Erica.