When I first saw the movie Little Man Tate, I was fascinated by one scene in the movie---the young boy is away from home at some summer camp for bright kids, and in this scene many of them are gathered in an auditorium, a math puzzle is projected onto a large screen, and the kids are trying to solve the puzzle, calling out various answers...nobody solves the puzzle, there's a moment or two of silence, and Tate comes walking across a vacant row, looks up at the puzzle. He stops to think for a moment, and you can see the components of the puzzle, and the answer swirling around in his head and on the screen. He pauses for moment, and then blurts out the answer, not knowing how he figured it out, not understanding the process of his own thinking, just arriving at the answer. Or at least that's my memory of the scene, which is just as important here. It's the process, the instant discovery, the intuitive movement...and I really should go back and scan through the film.
Yesterday, I took the subway downtown for my final (thank God!!) day of jury duty, spending time correcting mistakes of omission by both the judge and the plaintiff's attorney. Five or six mid 20s got on the subway with me, all clutching sheafs of colored papers, as I looked over the shoulder of the very cute woman who sat down next to me wearing a great black cami , I found that they were on an NYC scavenger hunt, which She later told me is a great team building exercise used by management consulting firms that hire the best and the brightest, or so they hope. They're given tasks all around the city, retrieving items, documents, information, memorabilia, answers to bizarre and difficult questions.
They all puzzled over a word jumble , scambled letters mixed in a 4/3/3/5 pattern, and I looked at it for a few minutes, listening to the group try to figure out the puzzle, and then realizing that they didn't know how to solve it, trying to figure it out by moving the letters around within the groups. As I looked at it yet again, I used the first basic tool, which is to find the repeated letter, and assume that it's a vowel. Coupling that with the placements of that letter, all of a sudden the answer jumped out before my eyes, and I leaned over to her, careful not to disappear into her cleavage, I told her the answer---BITE THE BIG APPLE. She was dumbstruck, to say the least, and asked how I knew the answer so easily.
I had to think about how easily and quickly I had done it, what the process was, and I realized that I intuitively knew how to do it, how to solve the puzzle. And it was an automatic process.
I wish that the rest of life was soooo simple to put together.