Puzzle Wisdom

I guess there are worse things I could be addicted to.

I happen to like doing puzzles. Okay, I happen to LOVE doing puzzles. All puzzles, really, but especially jigsaw puzzles. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy puzzles until I was grown up, but looking back at what I spent time doing as a very young child, there were always stacks of puzzles that I would spend hours doing. They were right up there with horseback riding and writing.

Several years ago, I finally claimed a table in our house as my puzzle table. There is often a puzzle in progress there. Having a dedicated table made it possible to start a puzzle and come back to it over time. Once, when I went on a trip to Florida with some girlfriends, I bought an unopened puzzle at a Good Will store. I spent every evening thereafter working on the puzzle and listening to my friends talk. I would pipe in every now and then and when I had nothing to say I happily worked on my puzzle and continued to listen. This set the tone for most of the times when I travel with my girlfriends. I will stop at a second-hand store and see what they have in stock, preferably unopened so I know all the pieces are there! Or I’ll bring a small puzzle from home. One time, one of my travel companions even brought a puzzle for me to work on for the weekend, knowing how much I enjoy them! If I’m away two nights, 350 pieces is just the right size for working alone; 500 pieces is great for two nights if I have others helping.

Many people read to relax before bed. I often do puzzles. If I have a puzzle out on the table, I often don’t want to do anything else. Mark teases me that I’m a latent engineer!

Here are some things I’ve learned from doing puzzles:

  • Doing a puzzle takes trust that it will all come together as it should. Trust the process.
  • Puzzles require patience. Don’t expect to complete a 1000-piece puzzle in 10 minutes.
  • With a puzzle, you see continual progress, one missing piece at a time.
  • Puzzles keep you in the present moment.
  • Look at a puzzle from all different sides, many different angles, and at different times of day.
  • Forcing a piece to fit doesn’t work. Each piece has a specific place where it fits in the big picture.
  • Just like you can’t force a piece, it’s difficult to search for a piece. When it’s meant to be found, it will be. Sometimes you just have to complete more of the puzzle before that piece is ready to be found and put in place. Again, trust the process.
  • The opposite is also true: often when you’re not looking (or expecting it), a piece jumps out at you, and you know exactly where it goes.
  • If you get stuck, take a break. Often, even a moment is enough to rest your brain so you can see things differently.
  • Puzzles can be done alone to recharge or with others to socialize. In other words, puzzles can be done with an individual or a team effort.
  • Persevere! Just like a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so it is with a puzzle.
  • Not every puzzle piece can be first. Some must be the 552nd piece, the 785th, and only one will be the 1000th piece.
  • Not every puzzle is something I want to spend my time on. But when I find one I’m interested in, it’s the ONLY thing I want to spend my time on!
  • Sometimes it’s the color that allows you to find the piece that fits; sometimes it’s the shape; and sometimes it’s the picture on the individual piece; sometimes it’s even a combination of all of these. And it’s different for each person. Do what works for you.

Huh. Just think what I could get done if I approached all projects like I approach puzzles: with patience, determination, trust, and perseverance…

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About lookingglassletters

Love to learn and live and travel and connect. ... and write and ski and walk and read...
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One Response to Puzzle Wisdom

  1. Linda Heikkila says:

    Except if you have cats . . .if you have cats that are curious and/or would prefer your individual attention . . . they will steal a piece of your puzzle and hide it under the buffet. You sort of know it’s there but it hurts to get on the floor on your replacement knees so you wait till the puzzle is done. . .well not done without that last piece that the cat took. So cushioning your knees with pillows you get down on the floor with a flashlight and stick to look under the buffet and you find 25 play mice and 15 balls with bells inside and realize that is what the cat is always poking at underneath the buffet . . . and not your puzzle piece . . . so you painstakingly use your stick and flashlight to pull all items out of the buffet as the cat watches. . . the cat his happy to have her toys back . . .but you never find your puzzle piece . . .awh . . .but I still do jigsaw puzzles hoping for a better final result. . .

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