Let me start by saying this — I am not a puzzle person. In fact, the last time I remember working on a jigsaw puzzle, I was probably ten years old.
However, I spent this past week at a beach house and like many people, I tend to try things out of the ordinary while on vacation. So when my daughter found a 1,000-piece puzzle among the games, I joined in her quest to put together the puzzle before the week was over.
At first, it was just the two of us and honestly, I wasn’t much help. But as the days passed, others got sucked into the challenge and would add random pieces in the morning while we ate breakfast or at night after a hard day in the sun.
Before long, there were four of us regularly contributing to the work. Sometimes we worked together and sometimes we worked on our own. We each had our strengths and we each approached the puzzle challenge from a different angle.
My daughter has an eye for the big picture and was able to look at the box lid and then construct nearly a fourth of the puzzle in the first couple of days, miraculously pulling just the right piece out of the pile time after time.
My step-daughter likes to work from the edges inward, finding it easier to build a framework of straight edges before filling in the rest.
A friend of the family studied the picture intently and was able to organize the pieces into the area of the puzzle where they would eventually fit, making the work easier for everyone else.
And I like to work on little clusters of similarly-colored pieces, fitting together many small clumps even though I do not have a talent for seeing how they fit into the bigger picture (unfortunately this tendency to focus on the details to the exclusion of everything else often plagues me in other areas of life!).
There is really no best way to work a puzzle. Everyone has a different approach that varies in accordance with their natural abilities. The beauty of our the puzzle project was that each person worked to fill in the gaps left by our fellow puzzlers.
We had a common purpose in seeing a finished picture. No one was a winner or a loser because we weren’t competing against each other but rather against the disorganization of the unsolved puzzle. There was a silent bond…