Monday, September 15, 2014

Puzzles...Waste of time or Way of Life?

About two weeks ago, Ben found this jigsaw puzzle in my closet.  I knew it was in there, but I was ignoring it.  I thought it might be fun to bring out around Thanksgiving.  You know, work on it during the holidays when family is visiting, and everyone can fit in a few pieces here and there until...voila...somewhere around the new year, it's magically finished.

Yeah, right.  This is my problem with puzzles.  I love them too much.  I become obsessed.  Like a good book you plan to put down right after you finish the next chapter...or as we used to say to our mom when we were kids..."just let me find a good stopping place!"

Once that puzzle was opened, I was a goner. Just one more piece, just one more piece.  Needless to say, it's cut into my reading time, my writing time, and my sleeping time.  And it's still sitting out there on the table taunting me.  Just a few more pieces to go, and the elusive grapes will be complete.

I realized, though, as I was sitting there, scanning the pieces for the correct shape with just the right color combination, that the puzzle is not the problem.  The problem is that never-ending quest to keep life in balance, to figure things out, to make good decisions.  I need the puzzle.

Just like when I go running, working on a puzzle gives me the time and solitude I crave.  Time to think, or not think.  How often do we just allow ourselves to be?  It reminds me of what my pastor says about prayer...don't forget to be quiet and listen.  Oh yeah.  That.

I always know progress is going to be slow when I'm actually thinking about the piece that I need...when I'm lining them up and methodically looking at each one to see if I can find the one that will fit.  This technique works, but it's slow going, boring, and frustrating.  When I find myself doing this, I know it's time to get up from the table and turn my attention to something else.

The beauty of the puzzle is that when you return to it in the right state of mind, after awhile, you slip into this zone.  The right pieces come into focus and start fitting in more and more easily.  And you feel like you aren't consciously doing anything at all.  You let go, and the puzzle almost puts itself together. 

I definitely need the puzzle.  It reminds me not to try so hard.  Take breaks sometimes.  Be quiet.  Listen.  Be.  How it all fits together will eventually become clear.  Yeah.  That.

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