What I’ve learned from jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw_puzzle_01_by_ScoutenI love doing jigsaw puzzles. Of late, there’s almost never a day when I’m not working on one. It’s an obsession escape for me. I love the satisfaction when I find the right piece and it fits just so and I see the picture coming together…and when every piece is in its place, the sense of accomplishment (and speaking of places, there’s a special one in hell for those who take a piece and hide it until the assembler is visibly distraught and turning over furniture).

Sometimes I feel guilty spending time on a puzzle when I could be reading any one of the many books I’ve acquired or blogs I subscribe to, working on my own blog, or <insert grimace> doing housework. But as I’ve been binge-puzzling I’ve also been learning some important life lessons from this leisure activity. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

So here’s what jigsaw puzzles have taught me:

– One puzzle piece is ordinarily not enough evidence that a boat exists (in puzzle world), but the boat’s existence is undeniable when all are on the table and connected.

– Even if some of the pieces of the boat are missing or incorrect ones have been placed where they don’t belong, there’s still no denying that that is a boat alright.

– Sometimes a piece seems to fit well and you place it there and move on but eventually it becomes clear that you were mistaken. And the only way to accomplish your goal of a perfectly put-together puzzle is to turn around and go back and undo what you previously thought was correct.

– Borders are good things. A clear boundary holds everything together.

– Diversity is also a good thing. The puzzle-making ceases to be enjoyable when I’m down to dealing with that expanse of clear, blue sky.

– Each piece is unique and important, and if it fails to show up the whole puzzle suffers.

– The joy is in the jigsaw journey. Though the goal is a completed puzzle, the letdown at the finish is real. I understand now why marathon runners are always about that next race.

– Careful observation of the context contributes greatly to understanding (a word that connotes putting things together).

– A painted landscape is beautiful, but if God did not create, we would have nothing to re-create.

So you see, I haven’t been “fritterin’ away my noontime, suppertime, chore time too.” I’ve been immersing myself in the puzzle of life…observing, thinking, making connections. That end table will only get dusty again and the floor dirty again. What’s the point? But the lessons learned at a table strewn with oddly-shaped little pieces of cardboard that come together to form something beautiful, have eternal significance.

At least…that’s what I’m telling myself.