Love it or hate it: Puzzles

by David Holub

Love itI often find myself in a conundrum, torn between two desires often at odds with one another: A desire to spend time with other people and a paralyzing fear that we will not have anything to talk about to the point of awkward catastrophe.

Hence, when it comes to spending time with others, it helps to have a stated activity as the purpose of being together and anything on top of that is a bonus – stimulating conversation, for instance. These stated activities usually involve limited concentration, physical exertion, or distractions. Hiking, car rides, and watching sports games come to mind. But one of my favorites: Puzzles.

With puzzles, you can talk or not talk. You can put on music or a podcast. You can eat and drink. It can be as meditative as you want it to be.

This says nothing of doing the actual puzzle, which is nearly as great as the social time it inspires. Seeing an image come together brick by brick, scanning what has been completed with a piece in your fingers, trying it here and there, this way and that, and then when you find that piece’s match and everything fits so perfect, it’s enough to make your heart melt. It’s like a thousand love stories on your kitchen table.

David HolubHate itAre you kidding me? Where is it? WHERE IS IT?

::peers under mugs and shifts a chip bag to see beneath it::

::looks under table::

::jumps up and down to dislodge hidden pieces::

It’s gone. A piece is gone. Every dang time I try to put together a puzzle, there is a missing piece. It could be a brand new puzzle, and an hour into pressing it together, gremlins have inexplicably stolen a key freakin’ piece. WTH.

Additionally, I know that puzzles work as a meditative force for some, but for me, they are boring at best and mildly infuriating at worst. I am not necessarily the most patient person. I want to know everything now. I want to be everywhere now. I want to do everything now. Life is short, and I want the entire universe inside me and to belch out adventure and beauty with every breath. Puzzles are not my kind of slowdown. If I want to slow down, I’ll do yoga. I’ll go for a walk. I’ll breathe deep, looking at the stars.

Jumping into a jigsaw ain’t my kind of fun. In fact, all the word “jigsaw” now reminds me of is the creepy, spiral-cheeked puppet creature from the “Saw” movies. No and thanks.

Patty Templeton


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