Puzzle on a Vacation

At first the idea of a 1000 piece puzzle was not received happily on our beach vacation. The refrain ‘this is a difficult puzzle’ was heard again and again. But as the days went by, we managed to put together the border pieces. Not easily, but when the border finally came into view, there was a sigh of relief. I watched each person try to walk by the puzzle, trying to ignore the intensity of it, and find something more entertaining to do. But the puzzle drew them in like a magnet. They glanced, they stopped, they looked more closely, and slowly moved toward it, taking a seat and becoming immersed in the complexity of words, colors, shapes and struggle.

My own feeling of focusing on the many varied pictures and descriptions felt a bit like a meditation. My mind quieted. And then stilled as I looked for a specific piece. I noticed that the TV was not turned on much, and the focus became the puzzle, that frustrating puzzle that had too many pieces and was too hard for everyone to manage. At the end of each day it was documented in a photograph, so we could see how there actually was progress being made, although it didn’t seem like it. The amount of work left to do was always a frustrating part of how we perceived the progress.

When it finally seemed like it would be completed before the week of vacation ended, a new excitement seemed to bubble up. The end was in sight, and everyone wanted to see those last few pieces put into place. But the feeling of satisfaction that the difficult puzzle was finally complete, didn’t last long. That focal point that had consumed so much of our attention suddenly vanished. There was no more work to be done. And then the TV came back on, laptops filled the table where the puzzle had been, and eyes were steadily focused on phones instead of oddly shaped puzzle pieces. And as the kids placed their hot dogs and juice boxes on it, life went on as usual, and the vacation came to a close.

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