When was the last time you assembled a puzzle?
Did you do it yourself, or did you have help?
How long did it take to assemble? Minutes? Hours? Days?
In our house, whenever we started a puzzle, it was an “all-hands-on-deck” affair. We’d all start working it. Some of us would focus on organizing the pieces to make them visible. Others would dive right in and start putting pieces together.
I worked the edges. It’s the only thing that helped me get my bearings on the puzzle. Start with the flat sides and establish a border…then work into the middle. Working from the middle, out, was way too random for me.
“Hey, does anyone want some hot chocolate?” always seemed like a good question for me to ask after about a half-hour of diligent work. With marshmallows. Without looking up, I’d get some slow yesses and a few grunts. By the time I came back with the hot chocolate, I was always amazed at the progress.
I’d get back to working the edges.
Each of us had our specialty and our own pace. Some of us were easily distracted (me). My wife would stay focused for hours…one piece at a time.
“Hey, who’s up for a break from the puzzle? Maybe we can hit it again in a couple of hours with fresh eyes.” I was always a proponent of fresh eyes.
But, then we’d get most of the edges completed. I’d get my own personal rhythm, and I could start to see the patterns. The puzzle started to take shape. First, in my mind and then on the table. My perspective on the puzzle and my ability to add value to it changed as the image emerged from all the pieces.
I don’t know if my wife and daughters (or anyone else who’d stop by and get sucked into the assembly project) went through the same evolution in their perspective as I did.
Our latest puzzle is a new business (actually, an existing business that we recently purchased). Once again, our family is building a puzzle together. This time, it’s not at the dining room table with a clear picture of the final product. In fact, new pieces are being added to this puzzle all the time.
Once again, we’re each approaching the puzzle in our own way. Center-out. Edges-in.
Is an image beginning to emerge? Yes.
The best (and most challenging) aspect of this puzzle is that it’s never finished. It grows and evolves. It occasionally leaves us feeling a bit perplexed. But, it also takes beautiful shape before our eyes as we continue to build, one piece at a time.
Anyone up for some hot chocolate? We’re gonna be here a while!