Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finding the Gum Drop -- jcarolek

When we were very young, my father used to play a game with us. On a brass tray he turned over three or four small, fluted brass “goblets” and under one he tucked a gum drop. Carefully we watched as he moved the goblets around on the tray. We followed every move and finally, when Dad had finished all the troop movements, we were invited to guess which goblet covered the gum drop.

We became very good at this game and it, of course, was one of many such games Dad and Mom played with us which helped in memory building. I remember this game in particular because the prize, that gum drop, hidden under one of those goblets actually served to distract our attention. Now I know that sounds odd but it is a true phenomenon.

Playing the game with no gum drop, but, say a button, hidden under the same goblet, I would follow the goblet very well and almost always be able to identify the one with the button. But the gum drop distracted me just enough, I mean I could TASTE that little piece of candy, that I lost track without ever realizing it.

I try to remember that fact about myself when trying to solve puzzles. I am a puzzle solver by nature. But, to be successful I must remain objective. To be objective, I must not get emotionally involved with the “gum drop.” All the clues are there, I’m certain, but allowing myself to be distracted even momentarily, will lead to improper identification of the correct “brass goblet.”

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