I Turned to Jigsaw Puzzles When My World Fell Apart – The New York Times

I worked on that puzzle for over a month. Others followed: Claude Monets Garden at Giverny and Edgar Degass Dance at the Paris Opera, each one a meditative distraction with an image that propelled me outside the confines of my room.

Puzzling was absorbing, yes, but it also allowed me to be present and disconnected at the same time. Immersion in my puzzle meant an escape from my body when my body was in pain. While my medication knocked me out, piecing shapes together allowed me to remain awake, active and engaged in a sense with my life. Like da Vincis sfumato technique, which blurred hard lines, the edges of my days, weeks and months softened. Because time was occupied, I could endure its passage. Most important, puzzling felt like progress. Bit by bit, I was moving toward something, even if it was only the completion of a picture.

In the years following my accident, I was eager to resume a more active life. I wanted to go to my job. I wanted to walk. And I wanted to dance!

Though I never gave up puzzling, more often than not, I found myself puzzling alone. After I married, my husband did not share my obsession. Hed sometimes discover me bent over a puzzle in the wee hours of the morning. In one hand, I held our colicky baby. With the other, I sorted pieces.

Of course, puzzling is different from real life. A jigsaw puzzle always has a solution, a perfect fit. A puzzle is stable, while life is not.

Still, I sat at home, connecting one piece with another, as a flower, a star or a face emerged. Even if I couldnt quite fathom what the final image would look like when it was completed, putting together jigsaw puzzles allowed me to trust that out of so much uncertainty, a new picture would form.

Puzzling has helped me through some dark times. It has quieted my mind and helped me see connections where I once saw none. It has helped me solve problems, even if the solution to a dilemma was dissolution. Midway through my divorce, when it felt as if my whole life was falling apart, I took on a challenge once given to Queen Elizabeth II of England: piece together a puzzle without looking at the picture as a guide.

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I Turned to Jigsaw Puzzles When My World Fell Apart - The New York Times

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