Lessons from a jigsaw puzzle

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she approaches a jigsaw puzzle. I, for instance, will always complete the sky portion first. My logic is that if I will be too tired for the grunt work towards the end and will probably give up.

Not that any one has the time for puzzles these days. I owe my experience to my 5 year old, who insisted I start the puzzle(presumably for the sheer pleasure of getting to open the box). She disappeared shortly thereafter, leaving me with a sawdust-filled set of 500 odd pieces. As any puzzle aficionado knows, not knowing if the set is complete can be downright demotivating. Still, having a relatively free week, I decided to take up the challenge and learned some life lessons in the bargain.

          Pick a puzzle that is slightly out of your comfort zone but not too difficult.

         You have to assume the pieces are all there and you will complete the puzzle- or your attitude could kill the game before it starts

         Sometimes it’s all about trying it one at a time. In the early stages of building the sky, there is no substitute for hard work. There are no clues, no shortcuts.

         The piece you need maybe right in your hand, but you’re not looking at it the right way.

         A tiny squiggle could be a letter, a piece of a tree or a lady’s hat – anything is possible.

         Pause when it stops making sense. You’re probably too tired. Try it again later.

         Give yourself plenty of time to complete it- but set a deadline. In my case it is the date when my house will be cleaned next. Without the deadline, the puzzle is going to languish and the next toddler visitor will eat some pieces.

         Look like you’re having fun and you will get help. My commitment to the puzzle drew the wildly erratic attention of my older child who spent a quiet 45 minutes putting in some of the pieces – 45 minutes that are so precious to me.

         When the spaces remaining are few enough to be counted against the pieces left –resist. Even if it looks like you have too many spaces to fill compared to the pieces on hand, keep going. You may be surprised at the end.

         Celebrate when you are done.

         Thank the people who made it possible for you to spend such singularly unproductive time on something you enjoy. Thanks, hubby dearest, thanks kids.

         A jigsaw puzzle may be one of the few things in your life over which you have complete control. Go get one today.


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