Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jigsaw Puzzles

I have been enjoying my holidays and the opportunity for some quiet time at home, filling my hours with reading and drawing and colouring in, all the while listening to music or watching old movies.  I have also been doing puzzles.  I'm talking about the kind of puzzle that comes in a box, in lots of little pieces, and you have to put it together to make the picture on the front of the box.

The other day, I was packing up a puzzle so that I could pull out another one. As I pulled each little piece away from its mates and put it in a bag I became a little sad.  That puzzle had occupied the kitchen table for a number of weeks.  Everyone who entered our house had seen it, leaned over it, peered at the box and attempted to place a piece correctly.  Everyone had enquired regarding it's progress.  It had filled the hours of quiet evenings when I was unable to sleep.  It had kept me company while I "watched" television or listened to music.  Any time I became just a little bit bored, I would be drawn towards the picture and become engrossed in it.  There were nights when I would close my eyes in bed and see candy canes and Christmas ornaments, puzzle pieces everywhere.  Every time I walked past the table I would pick up a piece and examine it, twisting and turning it between my fingers, eyeing the holes in the puzzle, trying to match a colour or shape, anything to find the right position.  The perfect place for this seemingly insignificant piece of cardboard did exist.

There is nothing like finding the right puzzle piece and pushing it gently into place.  Squeezed between the other pieces, it brings it's tiny shape and distorted colours to the big picture.  It contributes what it has and as you place piece after piece you begin to see the scene take shape and form a life of its own.  Eventually with a triumphant grin you come down to the last few pieces and all of a sudden you are in a frenzy.  The pieces just fall into place, like they are magnetised to their cohorts.  One after another, you place them more and more quickly until... the triumphant grin becomes a glow and your whole face lights up in pure ecstasy as you lift that final piece of the puzzle and place it gently and methodically into position.  You did it, you conquered this (insert number here) piece monster!

The puzzle had taken pride of place, once finished.  I took photos, visitors admired it and the children were scolded away from it.  This "experience" was over.  This beautiful picture, with a life of its own, had been finally assembled.  Now, it was being dismantled.  Packed away.  The big picture became tiny detached pieces again, destined to return to the shelf and gather dust.  There was something sad about those little jigsaw shaped items lying on the table.  Separated.  Lonely.  There was no way anyone could see how each piece would fit together to make something beautiful.  I sat there for a moment and contemplated all of this.

Then I rolled my eyes, shook my head and switched on the television.  What a drama queen?!

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