I’ve always been a fan of jigsaws. There’s something so satisfying about taking all of those little pieces and putting them together to form a picture. And for me, the harder the better – giant jigsaws, mirror jigsaws, mystery jigsaws, jigsaws with no guiding picture. Bring it on!
However, it’s years since I’ve indulged my passion for that particular type of puzzle. For a start they require undisturbed space, something in scant supply in a house where autism resides. They suck up time, pulling me in like an irresistible magnet. And once you’ve done them you break them up and they sit languishing in a cupboard somewhere, taking up valuable real estate.
Lately, though, I have dipped my toe back in the jigsaw waters by completing some online. It’s a tidy way to do them – no issues with boxes and missing pieces and having to keep them away from disturbing influences. The pull to do just a few more pieces still remains, but all in all, it’s a great alternative.
Perhaps it’s this reacquaintance with the small piece puzzle format that made me mention it when talking to a friend. I made the remark that life is like a jigsaw: we put together the picture of our life one piece at a time. Sometimes it can take a while to work out where the pieces go. Occasionally we feel like there are pieces missing. It takes time for the image to start to emerge but it feels so satisfying when a few pieces or a hard section suddenly comes together.
I also realised another parallel, and that comes in the fact that big pictures come together in small pieces. I’m a big advocate of breaking tasks down into smaller pieces, in not getting overwhelmed with all that it might take to get to the finished product. I often see my students become overwhelmed in the face of having to complete assignments. They look at any given task as though it’s Mount Everest and think to themselves, “I can’t do that.”
Instead, I encourage them to break things down into small pieces. Let’s start by packing your bag for Nepal. Let’s get you on the plane to Kathmandu. Then let’s get you to base camp and start the climb step by step. It often surprises them at how a seemingly insurmountable task becomes manageable.
It seems the humble jigsaw has a lot to teach us about the nature of life. As for me, I might just get back to putting in a few more pieces…
Coming soon. . .