This is precisely the kind of labor in which I hope everyone gets to participate today. After you’ve spent an hour or so in the sun, had a cup or two of the coffee, hiked, biked, liked, or psyched yourself into doing a few chores around the house that you’ve really been meaning to do and since it’s a holiday and you’re on extra time, there’s really no excuse for leaving them undone so you might as well start off the coming week with a cleaner slate and state—after those things, get ye to the dollar store or Goodwill and bring home a brand-spankin’ new puzzle.
There’s something about knowing that the answer is included in the box of jumbled pieces that’s really reassuring. You just have to sit with it long enough for the answer to reveal itself. Not to lean too heavily on this metaphor, but trying to mash the pieces into spots where they actually don’t belong doesn’t work. As someone who has is not always the Zen center of patiently waiting, puzzles are the perfect reminder for me that sitting with a problem long enough, looking at all the shapes and colors of its components, and then try and re-trying different combinations of the materials you have to work with until the thing is done is your only option. There’s always at least one point at which you’ll (fine, make that “I will”) scream and throw your hands up and say something like, “We’re missing pieces!! There’s no flipping way that these are all we have to work with, something must be eluding us and it’s definitely someone else’s fault!! We’ve been wronged!” You can blame the dollar store for purveying cheap crap, Goodwill for selling previously used puzzles, or fate for cursing you to be the person who buys the one factory-defective puzzle on the shelf. Scream, jump around. Pour a stiff drink. Whatever.
About 10 minutes later, you’ll have puzzled and puzzed ’til your puzzler is sore (yes, I think of this line from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas every single time), and then you’ll realize that you do actually have all the right pieces, and it was only you own impatience and ineptitude that kept them from going into the right places.
So, whether you’re literally sitting down and piecing together what will become a magical purple wolf howling at the moon, or you’re working on a less-defined, bigger-picture mystery, I hope that the solving of the thing is fun. All the pieces really probably are in there, somewhere.