Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Pieces of the puzzle

I hardly ever used to do jigsaw puzzles much. I never seemed to have the time or patience to just sit down and do one. Oh, I'd do ones with the kids when they were small and easily entertained. But they were never very challenging.

I think it was my birthday or maybe it was Easter, my wife gave me a Vincent Van Gogh jigsaw puzzle of Starry, Starry Night. It sat around for weeks until she bought this huge tray that was big enough to work on a puzzle but then move it off from the dining room table when I wasn't working on it.

I started working on the puzzle and found it therapeutic. It kept my senses occupied and my mind engaged. These are important things you discover as you age. The brain needs to be challenged. The puzzle did that. It was the combination of matching shapes and colors. It was kind of like being an archaeologist piecing together fragments of a skeleton or pottery.

I was hooked. I finished the Starry, Starry Night puzzle after working on it over a period of several weeks. It was a great way to fill the time I spend waiting for the kids to finish brushing their teeth before I tucked them in. And it was a welcome relief from filling my time playing Fortnite.

I took a photo of the finished puzzle, posted it on Facebook and then tore it apart and put it back in the box. What else can you do with a jigsaw puzzle? I felt a rush of pride for finishing it, but then a let down now that it was finished. I asked my wife to pick up some other puzzles at Goodwill.

She found three more. One was this weird optical illusion puzzle that didn't depict anything other than a series of colors and rectangles. You were supposed to be able to see 3D images when it was complete. It was quite the challenge because there weren't a lot of visual clues to build on putting it together. I had to rely more on the puzzle piece shapes.

I finally finished it, photographed it and moved on to the next two. I finished them and bought two more at Goodwill. One is a Gustav Klimt painting of a mother and child (classic art is a common theme of jigsaw puzzles as are landscapes). I am working on the Klimt painting right now.

I mentioned in another blog post that " is a bit disturbing when I finish one and the only thing to do is tear it apart and put it back in the box knowing I'll never redo it" and that life is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. That is true. Fortunately I have yet to work on a puzzle that is missing pieces. That would be a philosophical conundrum for me. There would be this gaping hole in my psyche knowing I was a few pieces shy of a completed puzzle.

But metaphorically a jigsaw representing life is quite appropriate. We spend a time figuring out the nuances of one puzzle, complete it, deconstruct it and move on to the next puzzle. Each puzzle teaches us something new that we can use to complete the next puzzle. But as we complete each puzzle, put it back in the box and just move on to the next one. So in theory, there is no end to the puzzles in life.

But eventually they put us in a box. Does that then mean it's someone else's turn to solve the puzzle of our own life?

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