Earl and I love jigsaw puzzles, but we put them together only once and then try to find a new enthusiast and hand them off. We particularly like scenes of Americana, 500 pieces, large. But we’re not above buying cutesy, 500 pieces, small, if the price is right.
One of the first things we noticed at the radiation oncology department was the table in the window that had jigsaw puzzle pieces spread over it and the frame already put together. It was a Christmas tree scene, which seemed appropriate for December. We were there for a preliminary meeting with the doctor.
When I finally started radiation the middle of January, the puzzle had changed to something more woodsy. After a week of two, another puzzle showed up. That’s when I asked, “How do you get your puzzles?”
“People donate them,” came the answer. And the collection that was growing in our closet at home seemed ripe for a new home. The next day, I came in with half a dozen puzzles of all sizes and shapes. It was cathartic and added an extra layer of interest to coming to radiation five days a week.
Yesterday, when I showed up one of our puzzles was front and center on the table. Truth be told, it was the hardest one too. I never liked it, but I sat down and put two pieces in before being called.
What is it about jigsaw puzzles that is soothing? Maybe the total concentration some take. Maybe the intensity with which some people study innies and outies. Or maybe – just maybe – it’s about emptying one’s mind of the significance of pending tasks. No matter, they are yoga without the mat.