For almost two months now I've been poking away at a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle (which I once worked on while listening to the Stones' bluesy and brilliant "Jigsaw Puzzle.") We bought it a few years ago, but didn't have a place to work on it until we bought a game table this summer. Pi Wen's had some impressive stints at the table, and friends have filled in some pieces. But mostly it's been my project.
Before this it had been ten years, maybe more, since I'd worked on a puzzle. Fortunately I remembered to assemble the border pieces first. After that I've been improvising. I've veered between grouping similar looking pieces together and randomly trying pieces that I grab from the box. For a while I tried to work while watching baseball, but the game always captured my attention. Now I allot focused time to the puzzle, although sometimes days go by before work resumes.
We're close to critical mass now. Once some more pieces literally fall into place the rest will follow. See the picture below for the current state of play.
A jigsaw puzzle is a challenge with guaranteed success given enough perseverance. That defining border is so much more clear and coherent than the amorphous and nebulous challenges we face at work and in life. In the "real world," people's needs, attitudes and perspectives shift constantly...often for the better, sometimes for the worse. Just when you've figured out a solution the problem changes.
Thank goodness for the jigsaw puzzle, in which the challenge and solution remain constants. It would be boring if all of life were this way, but a little consistency goes a long way.