Puzzles

I love all kinds of giraffes.  Wooden giraffes, leather giraffes, painted giraffes, photographs of giraffe.  I love them all.  So it only was a matter of time until I wound up with a giraffe puzzle–one of my Christmas gifts this year. 
I couldn’t wait to get started!  I emptied our little corner table in the sunroom and got to work.  First things first: I flipped all the pieces so the picture faced up and separated all the straight edges I could find.  Not an impossible job at all, I was on on my way!  One good look at the picture made me a bit nervous, though: all the colors blended together, both of the background and of the giraffes–either spot color, or no spot, that’s it… Mmmm… I wondered how I would manage, but welcomed the challenge with a positive attitude.  
It’s been quite a ride thus far, let me tell you… Every time I sit down to work my puzzle, I wonder how I could possibly find two pieces that interlock.  They all look exactly alike!  So I started to actually take the shape of the piece into consideration rather than its content; it helped a bit.  But only a bit…. I painstakingly struggled through the edges until most of my frame was formed; I was missing only two pieces–God only knew where those were!  But I was quite pleased with myself.  Time for a break.
After a couple of days, I came back to my puzzle.  What was I to do?   I tried to separate colors, but they all blended together.  Same shapes, same colors, no distinctive marks…  I stared at all the pieces and felt at a loss–until I found one little color splash! With excitement, I looked for another piece that matched that one.  Found it!  Well, let me look for another…. Within 10 minutes, I had three pieces strung together, and my eyes were exhausted.  Enough for one day.
I came back the next day–not much progress, but I somehow managed to add four pieces to the bottom of the picture.  Now I had some straw.  And actually, as I looked more intently, I realized that the straw didn’t look quite like giraffe spots… so I began to separate both.  An hour later, I called it a day and went to bed.

There are days — most of them to be honest–when I think that I could not possibly find another match; where do I go from here?  But then, as I look at little more intently, I find just one little piece of information in the picture and I get to string two, three or four pieces together.  That’s a great day.  And then, there are days when I stare at the picture and the pieces and see nothing at all… zilch, zippo…. So I take a deep breath and I walk away.
It may look as though I am going at it blind (and it surely feels like it), but I actually am making one little discovery after another.  One little one, and then another one…just one mind you, but who needs two at once?  I can only realistically deal with one at a time, right?

This puzzle isn’t happening fast–what an understatement this is!
But I am learning wonderful life lessons as I work my way through it:
Look deeper
One step at a time
There are good days and bad days
Focus
Sometimes, you’ve got to take a step back and look at the whole picture
Sometimes, you’ve got to only be concerned with the moment you are in
Sometimes, you just have to walk away for a while.

It is thrilling when I had absolutely nothing to go by yesterday but I can  go forward today, even if just one inch.  Same puzzle as yesterday, just a bit more light.  I am finding out that the journey matters.  This puzzle will take time. And you know what? It’s ok.

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