Puzzling Pieces

I’m the champion! At least I was way back in the day. The days when I was about 8 or 10 years old. During those subzero, snowy, southern Manitoba (Where’s that?)winter evenings. Jigsaw puzzles and crokinole (What’s that?)proved reliable family past times. With a greater rate of success with jigsaws, I left the index finger snapping game to older brothers.

Fiddling with puzzles pieces has provided, once again, intermittent entertainment during this Covid-19 situation. Talk about befuddling and bewildering! Puzzling, indeed! Will the pieces ever get sorted out? Or put together in a way that makes sense? Waiting…waiting…waiting…

As a “not-so-long-ago” college professor, I’ve ached for faculty and students coping with the surprise, disappointment, and grief of evacuating classrooms and dorm rooms quickly, on-the-spot good-byes, revamping study spaces at home (if there are any!), and wondering if and how this will all work out. And in the middle of spring semester!! So much to loose. So much to ponder.

Hold all those puzzle pieces lightly if you can. They don’t have to fit right now. Just be attentive to the pieces in your hand today. There’ll be a spot for each one all in good time. Trust and steadiness helps.

In the meantime, you might consider these puzzle solving questions or perspectives.

1. WHAT COLOR AND SHAPE IS THIS PIECE? How time consuming might this project, writing or reading assignment be? How difficult or reasonably doable is it? Got what you need to make it happen?

2. WHAT’S THE PICTURE ON THE PUZZLE BOX LID? What’s this going to look like in the end? What part of the whole image can be completed today? Small sections count! One discussion board question completed makes a difference. Reading 10 or 25 pages today paves the path to semester’s end.

3. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO COMPLETE THIS 1,000 PIECE PUZZLE? One piece at a time. Isn’t that the truth?! Actually, nobody finishes the picture any other way. So take a break! Intersperse them between periods of pondering and matching the pieces starting to come together in a big (or small) way.

4. HOW CAN DOING A PUZZLE BE WORTH THE TIME AND EFFORT? IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX, DOESN’T IT? Well, you’re right. Jigsaws go back in the box most of the time unless glue is applied to cardboard and pieces. But I still have boxes (mostly zip lock bags) of childhood puzzles hidden away in basement storage. That is, along with a box or two or three of elementary grade scrapbooks, high school term papers on Shakespeare plays, a master’s research thesis, and 30-40 page doctoral tomes. Why? Because those pieces remind me of who I was back then and NOW. It all contributed to the shapes and colors I am at this moment. Without those chucks of experience and accomplishment, my life’s portrait would look and feel different.

Knowing what I know now….I’d say it was worth it. You may not agree. That’s okay. Just consider the options. At some stages of puzzling, it’s impossible to see the grand panorama of a future life so one piece at a time snaps in place with others added daily.

You’re a magnificent, million-piece human masterpiece NOW! I’m here to help manage some of those pesky puzzle pieces.