Piece by piece

I finished my first winter puzzle tonight after work.

A photo of a completed jigsaw puzzle depicting a cozy indoor winter scene.

I can’t pat myself too much on the back for doing this one semi-quickly. I’m sufficiently out of practice that I’m deliberately grading myself on a curve by starting with 500-piece puzzles. Once I’m more in the groove, I’ll drag out the 1,000-piece examples and really dig in.

Still, completing this puzzle—and being reminded of the joy that puzzle-making brings me—has me feeling grateful and a little bit celebratory.

And like it may be worth sharing a bit more about why this activity suits me so well.

Admittedly, there’s some big piece of this why that I can’t concretely explain. I know there’s something in my brain that makes jigsaw puzzles and cross-stitch and Sudoku so enjoyable for me. Something about the pattern recognition, the code-cracking, the act of building a whole thing from myriad little components. It’s a deeply satisfying feeling for me, seeing the image taking shape, my efforts made visibly manifest. But no, I don’t know enough brain science to be able to break down the source of this satisfaction.

I also enjoy puzzle-building because it’s a version of moving meditation for me. A way to be still that I’m more able to allow myself than the traditional “sitting doing nothing” type of meditation.

In addition to these process-related gains, I gotta say that the artwork of this puzzle itself just kept delighting me as I noticed new things.

The puzzle itse;f was a recent purchase: when I started thinking about setting up a puzzle station, and how rusty I am, and how it might make sense to ease myself back in with some 500-piece puzzles, I decided that was a worthwhile investment. So I chose this one because it was the perfect winter cozy scene that created a positive spin on the imminent COVID winter that’s on its way.

Knitting, books, cozy socks, hot chocolate*: all very hygge, wouldn’t you say? So I quite literally chortled with delight when I noticed one of the few readable titles on the bookshelf:

Close-up of a completed jigsaw puzzle, showing bookshelves holding vases, a rubik's cube and several books--the one book with a readable title says "Hygge"

Then there’s the other indications of this woman’s internal life and passions.

She’s an amateur genealogist:

Close-up of a completed jigsaw puzzle, showing an open laptop at the (fictional) site "Ancestry Detective." There is also a poster with a hand-written family tree on the wall above the desk & laptop.

And she’s not averse to her own jigsaw-puzzling**:

Close-up of a completed (Ravensburger) jigsaw puzzle, showing a Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle box on a bookshelf.

It’s been fun to imagine the person living in this scene. Kind of like all those years ago when I was able to visit Chicago now and again and would go see the Thorne Miniature Rooms just about every time I was in the city. Or like how my latest holiday TV obsession is the Biggest Little Christmas Showdown.

Whatever the next puzzle is that I chose to do, I know I won’t have quite this exact flavor of fun in noticing the artistic details and imagining myself in the puzzle painting. But I hope there will be more small sources of surprise and delight as I keep this bit of quiet winter joy going in the weeks (and months?) to come.

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* I know the mug pictured could be holding any of a number of beverages. But in my head-canon, it’s hot chocolate.

** At some point I might just check out the Ravensburger catalog to see exactly how meta this particular detail got to be. Does it represent an actual puzzle the company prints? Good Gaia, I hope so…

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Image credits: photos taken by the author, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

One thought on “Piece by piece

  1. Pingback: Permission to fail – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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