IMG_1266.jpgWe ordered five 1000 piece puzzles and I opened one today to work on. Working a puzzle is like meditation. There is a box filled with 1000 pieces of chaos and slowly, through attention to color, pattern, shape, an order emerges. The mind is focused. By sorting and sorting what one has sorted with more and more specificity, clarity emerges. Sorting is like deep breathing. And there is calm in that the ultimate end point is printed on the cover of the box the puzzle pieces have come in. This journey has a clear and tangible endpoint. There is a very real sense that one will successfully reach the goal of the finished image even if you work slowly. In fact, working slowly is the key. There is no rush. Piece by piece the image builds. And as one gets closer to finishing, it organically speeds up because there are fewer and fewer pieces to place. It’s like there is a palpable sense of control and clear direction, while everything around you is out of control and seemingly without mooring.

My mother taught me to do puzzles. It was one of the few things we could do together without arguing. I remember she would turn on the bright red radio in the kitchen and sometimes, when we knew the songs, we would sing them together while working the puzzle. We would always work the border pieces first. Peace. Cooperation. Heart.

So today. First the border. The below-the-radar (sometimes not so below) stress lifts a bit. Then sorting for the peacock image in this puzzle of a 220 year old Japanese scroll. And I surrender to the experience.

And now— how can I sort through this puzzle of a life. Though I recognize the patterns, the pieces don’t always fit together so easily. Though I have sorted for the border pieces, there are a few that I still haven’t been able to find. And the hardest part of all, there is no picture on the box.

I work the puzzle anyway, sorting with someone for whom I care, and singing when I recognize the tune.

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4 Responses to Puzzled

  1. mhorvich says:

    Beautiful. Moving. Post a photo when completed! What must it say about me that I “have no patience for puzzles!” Hahaha

  2. Jake says:

    Wonderful read,love your writing. Be Zen– the finished image of your life is inside.

    ” See into your heart and become Buddha.” All puzzle pieces are there.

  3. Susan Minard says:

    Beautiful piece, Jan. I can envision you and Pearl working a puzzle, engaging in parallel play, with a song together. Much like your journey together.

  4. LydiaA1614 says:

    I’ve always found puzzles to be relaxing. I have recently taken up diamond painting, which gives the same zen effect as puzzles. The one thing is, though, that when you are done with the picture, you have to find a place for it – with puzzles, you just put them back in the box

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