Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle

A blog by Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

My husband and I visit my parents in Colorado every summer. He goes to fly fish and I go to work jigsaw puzzles. I realize they have jigsaw puzzles in Texas but my obsession with them prevents me from setting one up in my home. I would not be able to do anything until the puzzle was complete.

At my parent’s house, I can spend hours sitting at the jigsaw table and no one minds. People even stop by to help. So far this trip I have done 6 puzzles. Five of them were 550 piece puzzles and completed in a matter of hours. The last puzzle had many fewer pieces but was much harder.

water fallI gave the puzzle made from a picture of North Creek Falls that I took last year to my mom as a present, and she’d been unable to complete it. That challenge was all I needed.

As I worked on this puzzle, I learned many things.

  1. If I had thought about it, I would have realized there were not enough different colors in this picture to make it a practical puzzle. Every piece was gray, black, green or white. When separated, they all looked about the same color.

Lesson: Consider the results carefully before you make a decision.

  1. Since all the pieces looked alike, the only way to know if they fit together correctly was to try them. That meant methodically picking up every piece and putting it in a spot and sorting out the “no” pieces. It was very tedious work.

Lesson: Sometimes the only way to know if something works is to try it.

  1. There were times when the last piece we tried was the one that fit. Persistence was crucial. Giving up would have been easy but we wouldn’t have finished the puzzle.

Lesson: Keep trying until you find what works.

  1. Sometimes the pieces looked like they fit together. Later we discovered something was not right when every piece we tried was a “no” piece. The right piece was in the wrong place. We had to take the wrong piece out and find the right place.

Lesson: When things aren’t going right, it may mean backing up to see where things went wrong to begin with. Then make it right and move ahead.

For me, working jigsaw puzzles is therapeutic. Part of my mind can wander while part is fixated on finding the right piece for the right spot. While my mind is wandering, sometimes it stumbles upon some important life lessons.

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