So I just finished a 1000-piece puzzle.
It sits atop a portable wooden table in our living room: “Country House,” a jigsaw of a brightly-lit painting sparkling with yellow and orange pastels.
I thought I might be indifferent to it once I completed it. Not true. Surprisingly, I appreciate it each time I walk by.
There it sits, a testament to my accomplishment.
Maybe I should tone down the grandiosity. This is a jigsaw puzzle we are talking about, not a new invention, or a flight to the moon. Grade school kids complete puzzles. I too have done puzzles before, though I’m not sure whether I completed a 1000-piece puzzle.
The point is not that this is an objectively significant accomplishment. The point is that I had a good experience doing it…and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishment 🙂
At first it was an act of faith that I would be able to finish. The table top was a mess: hundreds and hundreds of unsorted, unmatched pieces. Chaos reigned supreme. My first big win was getting the frame in place. Faltering but persisting, I sorted through piece after piece of indecipherable red, yellow, and brown blots. Is this part of the house? Does it belong on the ground? Is it up in the tree? Should it be facing right-side up or on its side? How the hell should I know? Frequently, I couldn’t figure out where a piece belonged, despite scouring the image on the box for clues. I started building the house. That’s something. I put the cat together on the lower-right side. Aha, something I can show my wife. I learned I was more comfortable sitting with my knees on a pillow instead of on my chair as I studied the table. I got the lower third of the puzzle complete. That was a big moment. From there I found my groove. The pile of unused pieces shrank, the territory of organized puzzle grew. Now the remaining pieces were contained in one area of the table instead of all over it. I started matching empty spaces with puzzle shapes.
With each new piece connected, my momentum grew. A few days ago, I saw the inevitable triumph approaching. Yesterday morning, my wife recorded on her phone as I put the final pieces in place.
Ta-da! Behold the completed work. 1000 pieces. One good experience.