Do you like to do jigsaw puzzles? This was a question posed to me the other day which led to a really interesting discussion. The answer was yes, I love them. And I do. When I get a craving to do a puzzle I will take myself on a gleeful shopping trip to purchase the perfect one. Or, because I have other puzzling friends (that didn’t come out quite right), I head to my closet to choose one acquired in a trade. Then I will grab my puzzle board, pour the pieces into a box and dive right into the fun!
My conversation companion was a bit baffled by those who like jigsaw puzzles. She was intrigued by how differently people approach solving the puzzle (edges first or sort by color?). But the thing she was most curious about was the why, not the how. Why would anyone spend time doing such a thing? She did not quite see the point. Because it is a leisure activity my feeling was: no point needed.
Though, after discussing it I realized that, for me, there really is a point. Bringing order to chaos, the meditative state induced by sorting through the box of pieces looking for common colors, the rewarding sense of completion, the satisfying moments of finding that one piece you were convinced must certainly be missing. Most significantly, doing a puzzle makes room for the creative part of my brain that sometimes needs to be left alone in order to function properly.
The creative process is fascinating. Ideas come land on you from who knows where. There is a spark, but in order to see the idea through you need to work at it. It is, in fact, a puzzle. The inspiration gives you the pieces but you need to assemble them. In any of my creative pursuits I will inevitably reach a point of impasse. If I try to force it, it fails. If I walk away and put my mind to a different task, I can often figure it out.
So the leisurely activity of doing puzzles does have some production value for me. This begs a further question. Does leisure have to have a point? Instinctively I say no, of course not. The art of leisure is the ability to enjoy yourself. You can feel joy for its own sake, right? However, if I think about it, I believe that leisure does have value beyond the joy. It can rejuvenate, inspire, connect you with others and bring a sense of accomplishment.
If you spend hours knitting a sweater you can feel proud to have something warm and beautiful to show for it. If you read a novel for your Book Club, you expand your mind and get to share your insights with good friends. If you lie on a beach for three days you return to your life refreshed and focused. And if you solve a jigsaw puzzle you may, in turn, solve a more pressing riddle in your mind.
What do you do for leisure? How does it serve you? You may find it interesting to think about. I thank my conversation companion for the inspiring topic. It was a very enjoyable, and productive, time.
Now I am off to seek a new puzzle!
Image courtesy of Idea Go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net