Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Puzzle Maker

I have started doing puzzles - jigsaw puzzles. There is something therapeutic, soothing, yet stimulating in sitting in front of a puzzle for a few hours each evening. I imagine that we use only about five per cent of our brain during the day, even if we are multi-tasking twelve different screens on the computer. If we break each thing down into its separate part, we really aren’t demanding too much of the brain at all.

But with a puzzle, we must both see each part separately and all of the pieces as a whole. So often we put in the wrong piece, believing that we have a fit, only to later realize that a mistake, however subtle, has been made somewhere, offsetting everything else. And then we painstakingly work our way back, looking for that wrong turn.

One might say that doing jigsaw puzzles is an inherited tradition in our family - a tradition passed down from mother to son. The only time that I tend to do puzzles nowadays is when I visit my mother in Canada. One of the reassuring things of “returning home” is finding a partially completed puzzle spread out on the table, awaiting me. It doesn’t take long before I am sitting there, ensconced, filling in holes, putting together new sections.

But this time, upon arriving back in Israel from my Canadian visit, I decided that I needed to continue the tradition in my adopted land. Partly to sharpen my mind, partly to serve as an alternative to staring at the wall. I know that some of you will say that a good book serves the purpose just as well, but not really. At least, not for me. First of all, a book is linear. Secondly, after sitting in front of the computer screen most of the day, digesting all types of text, my eyes need a reprieve from constantly sweeping from left to right, right to left, scanning row after row. The easy and soft pace of working on a puzzle in the evening provides a welcome visual massage.

My daughter became hooked on puzzles, also, when she visited Canada with me many years ago. We actually picked up on it when we returned to Israel and were even doing two thousand piece puzzles at one point, which required taping together two large hard plastic sheets so that the puzzle could become “mobile” when needed and not totally neutralize a major part of the living room. We had to try and keep Bijou, our Labrador, away from the puzzle, or we would find small pieces chewed up in different parts of the house. There is something about the glue used in the pieces that is quite tasty to dogs. But Nicole grew up and left home, and Bijou passed away, and I was left with an empty table - the plastic sheet going into storage.

Until now. A thousand piece puzzle is once again spread across the table. But working on a puzzle now is different. The house is empty. No children, no dogs. A busy wife usually arrives home late in the evening. Coming home to an empty house after a long hard day at work can sometimes be comforting, but often disconcerting. No one there to welcome you. It is good then having the puzzle there. I pour myself a glass of whiskey and settle down, the pieces coming together on the table, pieces coming together in my mind. Life is but a mosaic, isn’t it. We are constantly looking for which next piece will fit. We should never give up the hunt.  

1 comment:

  1. Nice one David. Beats sitting in front of the boob-tube, watching mindless entertainment for the masses!