February 18, 2022

Feb 18, 2022

Image: Melanie Kyer

Putting the broken back together: Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle

Our picture of what Christmas would be like this year was broken when our son tested positive for Covid-19 and we had to stay home. We are blessed that it was a mild case, and despite the disappointment of a different kind of holiday, we have enjoyed the simple refreshment of being together with no obligations. I pulled out a jigsaw puzzle for the first time in many years– a “broken picture” of a different kind. I used to love doing them as a child with my family in the cool basement when the summers got too hot to work in the garden. Later on I saw them as a waste of time– what did you have to show for it in the end? I always had more important things to do! But now a few weeks later, when snow days are called and I look out at our long winter, I pause in the stillness and realize there is real peace in putting something broken back together. There is an inordinate sense of accomplishment in finally finding a piece that fits–in having control even if it’s just over a small bit of cardboard. Here are a few other lessons I have learned from the jigsaw puzzle…

1)  Start with the frame. You may have no idea what is going to fill it, but it helps to hold things together.

2)  Some people working on the puzzle will line everything up by shape, and some will just randomly scan pieces to find one that works. Either way, the puzzle will eventually get done.

3)  Sometimes you have to step away from things for a while – and when you come back with a new perspective, you wonder why you had so much trouble making things fit.

4a)  When you’re looking for that one elusive piece, you may try a piece over and over again, thinking it will work. If it is the wrong piece it is never going to fit.

4b)  Sometimes the perfect piece is the one you never thought was going to work.

5) Every piece is different: they’re all different colors and shapes, some have a fat foot, some have two heads…but if you’re missing any one of them, the whole picture will be incomplete.

Melanie Kyer