Monday, March 2, 2015

Puzzles

"It always seems impossible until it's done."
Nelson Mandela


I have three drafts started and waiting for completion.
I got sidetracked by a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle.
It took me a week, but I finished last night at 3am.

When I opened the box and saw all the pieces I seriously questioned my sanity.
I thought the pieces were going to be bigger.
750 one inch pieces all dumped on a table can be a rather daunting project.

When I was a kid mom used to do puzzles. She also knitted elaborate patterned sweaters and crocheted blankets that would make anyone but the stout of heart shy away.  Maybe there is a connection with being a mother and not being afraid of large, seemingly insurmountable, tasks. Like when your toddler throws up all over his/her bed and there you are in the middle of the night, comforting said child, bathing said child, stripping said child's bed of soggy and stinky linens, remaking the bed and lugging all the dirty sheets and blankets to the laundry. Nothing says lovin' like washing blankies in the wee hours of the morning.

The first thing I do when starting a puzzle, large or small, is turn each piece face up. Then I begin the search for edge pieces. One by one, they appear. One piece by one piece the outline takes shape. Some people say it's cheating to use the picture on the box as a guide. I say what has cheating got to do with it?  I keep it close at hand.

A sense of calm comes over me as the picture begins to take shape when I work on a puzzle. The nervousness of the start settles down to a comfortable rhythm. Because the puzzle is left on the dining room table it is readily accessible. I can stop for a few minutes as I walk through the room, or sit  hunched over the pieces for hours after dinner. Leaving it in the open invites others to try their luck. It also makes a tempting target for a certain black cat. For some reason he did not bother this puzzle. He must have known there'd be no sound as the pieces fell onto the carpeted floor.  Boy Cat prefers loud crashes, like a dish breaking into a dozen pieces when scooted off the edge of a kitchen counter onto the tiled floor.

I found that puzzling is a but like quilting. You start out with a bunch of pieces, and stitch them together until you have a finished quilt. Sometimes the pieces fit nicely into place.  Other times you have to rip out all the stitches you just sewed to get the edges to line up right. Once in the groove, you can let your mind wander as your fingers do the work. Creative work is often about turning off your brain and letting the process happen.

That's where I found myself last night from 10 pm to 3am. To quote an old yellow pages ad, I let my fingers do the walking. I'm pretty sure I tried the same piece in the same place about 20 times. Yet gradually I knew I was entering the home stretch. To continue the quilting metaphor, I was at the sewing on the binding stage. Putting in the last piece is a moment of sweet success. Unlike a quilt, I can't wrap myself up in the warmth of my work. I can, however, pat myself on the back acknowledge a job well done.



"Not all of the puzzle pieces of life seem to fit together at first. 
But, in time, you'll find they did so perfectly." 
Doe Zantamata

Maybe now I can get back to writing. It's a possibility but don't hold your breath. Like quilting, puzzling can become addictive. I hear the siren's call from the toy section at WalMart calling me.
Merry ME

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