Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Have you seen one of these? 

It's called a Gordian Knot.  There is a legend about a man named Gordius in ancient Phrygia (I think that's where Turkey is now) who tied his ox cart to a post with a very intricate knot.  Oracles foretold that the person who could successfully untie the knot would rule all of Asia.  Years and years went by and no one was able to untie the knot, until one day when Alexander (not yet THE GREAT) came into town and decided to be proactive and just cut the thing in half with his sword.  
That story was more about ingenuity and audacity than determination and perseverance, but nonetheless, Alexander did eventually go on to rule all of Asia.  Apparently those were the qualities they were looking for in a leader at the time.

That story was told in church a few weeks ago and it caught the Scout Master's attention.  Thanks to the miracle of Amazon, he was able to order his very own Gordian Knot to use as an object lesson in future scout activities.  It arrived last Wednesday.  Within a few minutes, and with the help of the detailed 70 step guide, the Scout Master was able to take the knot apart without any problem.  His plan was to take it on his camp out last Friday night and let the boys practice trying to be the next ruler of the CAMPGROUND.  Unfortunately it never made it to the camp out because unlike its ancient Greek counterpart, this Gordian knot is a little tricky to put back together.  

All day Thursday the pieces sat on the Scout Master's desk.  He worked on it during conference calls and between emails.  It moved into the living room that night so he could work on it after dinner.  A few of the kids tried to put it back together using the flip side of the 70 step take apart solution guide, but they quickly got bored and moved on to other less-taxing activities.  Solving difficult brain teasers is NOT on my list of skills or interests.  I have only ever touched a Rubik's cube once and I think that was only because it was one of those cute little key chain ones. 
If there's too much effort involved, I give up.  It's pitiful, I know, but thankfully I'm good at other things.  

On Friday afternoon, when the Scout Master packed the van for his camp out, the Knot was still in pieces on my coffee table.   Through the weekend, the pieces were still there.  Yesterday morning, they moved back to the Scout Master's desk during his conference calls.  But at 4:00pm, as he was packing for his trip to HOU, I noticed that not a lot of progress had been made in getting that knot "re-knotted."  
Just as he walked out the door to go to the airport, he said to Spell Girl "Why don't you see if you can finish this."   And I think I overheard something about a skateboard as a reward if she could do it.  I don't think he seriously thought there would be a reward to worry about though. 

All of our kids are driven...some more than others depending on the time and the circumstances.  Spell Girl isn't our most competitive, but she is the most determined of the bunch.  She is inifinitely patient (like her dad) and can't turn down a dare (like her mom.)  If you combine those two qualities with the extrinsic motivation of a skateboard...
...you get a 12 year old who can move mountains!   

It was inspiring to watch her work on that puzzle for HOURS!  She never complained, just quietly and diligently worked.  She put a few pieces together and then took them apart.  She looked at the guide and followed the steps and then finally abandoned that and just let her instincts take over.  4 hours later, she proudly held up the completed Gordian Knot! 

The thing about Spell Girl that I love so much is that she is determined.  She defines her goal and then quietly sets out to accomplish it.  And then she does it.  Sometimes it takes days or weeks, or in this case, HOURS, but she does it.  And when she finishes, she never wants to shout it from the rooftops like some of the rest of us might be inclined to do.  She's just content to know that she did it.  I love that. 

Determination and humility.  I'm pretty sure this girl is going to do amazing things in her life.