Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Wisdom of the Puzzle

Earlier I praised the jigsaw puzzle for its vigorous exercising of our visual-spatial intelligence. But there’s more.


First, the content of the particular puzzle. I learned a lot from this one about the various National Parks and Monuments in the United States. Out of the 97 listed, I believe I’ve only been to 27, giving me 70 more possibilities to add to the bucket list.


Secondly, I’m always amazed by how I often get it wrong understanding precisely where each state is in relation to its surrounding ones, despite the fact that I’ve seen the U.S. map thousands of times and traveled to every state but two (Mississippi and Arkansas). 


Thirdly, I’ve spoken before about a host of metaphors hidden inside the jigsaw puzzle, the way we are born with an indelible Soul image that we are meant to be. But the pieces get scattered and we have to gather them one by one and piece them together until the image gradually begins to reassemble and make sense. And so on.


With this recent puzzle, I worked on putting together the words at the top and reached an impasse where it seemed clear that four pieces were missing. Two visitors at my house confirmed the confusion and after looking all over the floor for the missing pieces, were as completely baffled as I was. Later that night, I found the problem. I’ve tried to re-create it here, but impossible to remember the details. Suffice it to say that two letters were in the wrong place and by re-placing them, it all came together.


And so came the deep lesson of the day that speaks to the way we convince ourselves that something is wrong with us, that we’re missing some vital piece of humanity that everyone else seems to have but us. 


The pieces are not missing. They’re just in the wrong place.

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