By Beth Irvine
What tickles your puzzle bone? Some folks knit and some quilt and some crossword, wordsearch or Sudoku. All of these allow a soul to keep hands busy, engage enough of the brain to keep one from falling asleep and let the large muscles and joints rest and recover.
I’m not alone in enjoying the serenity of a large jigsaw puzzle. Oddly enough, my photo of the completed frame of this year’s 2000-piecer touched off a cascade of memories for more people than I could have imagined! And some remarks from people who had stashes of puzzles tucked away since … well, since about the time that Facebook came along.
There is something so soothing about turning over the pieces of a well-made puzzle, like Ravensburger or Cobble Hill. How relaxing, after the bustle of Christmas, to sit, sipping something hot and spicy, and turn a thousand pieces colour-side-up. I like to sort out the edge pieces and separate the obvious colours; a friend likes to group the pieces according to shape. Whatever, the effect is to sooth the soul into a totally unstressed state. I am always surprised when the clock chimes an extra hour beyond what I expect; I only planned to fit three pieces!
No one would ever hint that taking a walk is a waste of time, but sometimes the folks around me can be quite dismissive about my little pastime. I am surprised that, in all the articles I have read about how to reach your New Year’s resolutions, none of them suggest opening a box containing a new puzzle! From the one who finds she can’t keep a single commitment - all of them seemed to relate to depriving herself of something rewarding and, naturally, bound for failure in her stressful life - to the group who take on resolutions for just one month at a time, the key to successful resolution-making seems to be taking the time to consider the choice from all aspects. A time of quiet reflection provides the best start. Does your “quiet reflection” most usually end up in an “unscheduled nap” instead of a resolution?
Me too! I need something to keep my hands or feet busy or I spin off into oblivion. It is so easy to jump off the train of thought. I’m more likely to rein my mind to a fine point when only my eyes are needed to find that knobby little piece. (Are there specific words for those shapes on a puzzle piece?)
The price of a theatre ticket - or less, if puzzles are passed on to you! - gives the puzzler hours of relaxation and opportunity to process all the little bits and pieces jumbled into memory banks and think tanks. There’s so much to think about, to remember, to decide upon!
As a bonus, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, doing jigsaw puzzles is one of many activities that can help keep the brain active and may contribute to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.