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Life lessons from a puzzle
jessica brown column
Jessica Taylor.

Last week I bought a puzzle. When I was browsing the store I stumbled upon a gorgeous picture of a secluded cottage with a beautiful flower garden next to a lake with a weeping willow tree.

I didn’t even think about the 1000 little pieces inside the box. I saw the picture and I wanted that picture.

I sat down to put my puzzle together this weekend, opening up the pristine box and carefully dumping all 1000 pieces onto my small coffee table.

In this pile of pieces I knew that picture on the box was hiding, and I could certainly put it together in a couple hours with ease.

But I underestimated just how monumental it is to sift through 1000 puzzle pieces.

After two hours I was still making sure all my pieces were turned right side up. A whole two hours and I was nowhere near close to having a finished picture.

As I sifted through hundreds and hundreds of pieces to find all the edges to build the frame, it became clear that my coffee table was too small.

I had to transfer all the work I had done to my kitchen table and dump all the pieces onto the newer, bigger table. It felt like I was back to square one.

Of course my husband who is compulsively tidy was in shock when he came home from work to see our table completely overrun with an assortment of colorful puzzle pieces.

He looked at me with wide eyes and his mouth agape.

“The coffee table was too small,” I shrugged.

In my mind I was panicking to say the least at the overwhelming task I set for myself. I was so consumed with the pretty picture that I never stopped to think how long it would take me to put it together. I knew what I was working towards, but it didn’t make the process any easier, with hundreds of pieces looking exactly the same.

It took patience and diligence, two skills I’m not well equipped with, to accomplish even the smallest task of building the puzzle’s perimeter.

I spent most of my weekend getting a backache from hunching over my kitchen table, trying to make sense of the pieces before me.

Sensing my distress, my husband sat down beside me and began to help me make sense of what seemed like a senseless array of colors.

After hours and hours, the picture finally came to life Sunday night and we reveled in our hard work.

It got me thinking a lot about life.

Each of us is given our own puzzle to solve, and we dump out the pieces and try to make sense of what we have before us.

We keep our eyes on that picture on the box, knowing that we have all the pieces we need in front of us to bring it to life.

But making everything we’ve been handed fit together is the challenge, especially when some of the pieces we have don’t seem to go together at all.

With patience and determination, the picture becomes a little bit clearer piece by piece.

Eventually it all comes together and you can stand back, looking proudly at the life you’ve built.

And of course, I thought to myself, just like my puzzle of the cottage with the garden, I didn’t put it together on my own.

Just like my puzzle, my life didn’t happen on my own. When I got stuck, I always had a little bit of help to get me back on track.

Funny how much you can learn by putting together a puzzle.