Thursday, September 8, 2022

Another Puzzle

            I finished another jigsaw puzzle this week, a gift from Genne’ – a map of Michigan featuring cartoon-like drawings associated with different areas in the state. It felt good to do the puzzle and even better to be done. It brought to mind a previous post from January 2020:




            A friend texted us recently to apologize for not getting back to us sooner, explaining that she has been very busy at work.


            “I’ve been busy, too,” I told her, “working on a jigsaw puzzle.”


            Why work on a jigsaw puzzle? Good question, I suppose, especially when I see Kim so busy doing real work – cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Yes, I do some real work, too, most of it involving snow, but my jigsaw puzzle contribution to our functioning home carries with it a seasoning of guilt. I’ve told Kim several times that one thing I really enjoy is being useful. This puzzle is not that one thing.


            Kim has been great about it – not giving me any static about wasting my time. Occasionally she will walk by the puzzle and put in a couple of pieces. (As it turns out, all colors of blue are not the same, and dark blue is not the same color as black.) Keep in mind—to give you a feel for the speed at which I operate—that I’ve been “working” on this puzzle for about a month. Kim has also offered, several times, to help by putting the unfinished puzzle back in the box.


            I am proud to say that I put together the entire outside border, and I ended up with two extra pieces with straight sides. 


            What causes puzzle-pleasure? It may be a deep enjoyment of creating order. The world seems to be a mess, a jumble of pieces, in so many ways: the Middle East, the planet’s health, domestic politics, just to mention a few. There is not a lot I can do, in the British phrase, to “sort things out” in those areas. But I can do that with my puzzle pieces sprawled on the table. Kim suggests that I can also create order by cleaning up the top of my desk.


            At least, I think I can create order out of my puzzle pieces. My progress, already slow, is getting slower, and I do have to find a place for those straight-edged pieces. Pretty much all that remains are about a hundred nearly identical black-ish pieces. I’ve started to think of excuses: I bought the puzzle used, and maybe somebody deliberately messed with the pieces, and that’s why I’m stuck.




            After realizing that a number of pieces were missing, we scrapped the puzzle and dumped the pieces back in the box, headed for recycling. It feels really, really good having done this – another way to bring order to my world. Kim, as usual, was right.



            I did actually finish my Michigan puzzle, with help from Max, a ten-year-old neighbor. It is giving me a feeling of satisfaction. It’s done. Finished. Right. Everything is in its proper place. Kim can do this by fixing a meal or making a bed. I do it by finishing a puzzle. Much of the world is a mess – the larger world, of course, but also some aspects our smaller world: struggling family members, cobwebs, weeds, trees needing trimming, door needing repair, unreturned phone calls, etc. But the puzzle is done! 

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