I buy puzzles. I do this for two reasons.  One is when I want to figure something out and cannot.  The other is when I want to glide through a situation with ease.  I fool myself into thinking that this is someone else’s challenge, the designer.  So, it is not personal and I am not emotionally attached. Oh and yes, there is a third reason, I buy puzzles to connect with my family.

When my kids were young and holiday vacations were coming or summer vacations, I knew that our home would be used differently, appreciated differently and different areas would be more frequented.  There would also be more time to gather together and I wanted something fun.  I wanted a group challenge.  Puzzles worked for us.

Puzzles invite participation; the ardent fervor of concentration conceptualized into a compact amount of time focused around a table on which lies a puzzle.  Furrowed brows , yells of “I got it!”, the silent worker, the one who needs the television or music on, the solitary worker, the one who is competitive, the one who helps everyone along.  It is a synthesis of the personalities in a household or family or even, friends.  I remember one year when I went to my brother’s for Christmas.  We got a large puzzle to put on the kitchen table.  I rarely slept; I was at the puzzle table constantly.  It was the first time in a long time that I thought of nothing else but the puzzle. I remember my sister-in-law, Candice, coming out of her bedroom and saying “Ellen, I am worried about you! Are you okay?”  Was I okay?  I was better than good. I was escaping. I was on this. It was wonderful.

There are ways to work a puzzle: with the box in front of you to see the end product: or piece by piece matching patterns or both.  I like to see the box so I know what I am working towards; others like to figure it out as they go along; they watch it unfold, piece by piece. I unfold to something that I know is there; they unfold petal by petal.  They discover; I blaze a trail to a destination.

If you ever want to get a read on someone, ask them how they work puzzles.  From the inside-out or the outside-in.  You can really get a bead on them.  Oh, and if they don’t work puzzles or don’t like to work puzzles, well, you’ll get an accurate idea of how they go through challenges or solve problems or maybe they think they have it all figured out.

Careful.  One who does not live in mystery or discovery, one who is so comfortable with predictability and certain in their knowing has surrendered curious.  Curious is good. It keeps us excited.

Stop thinking.  Work a puzzle.