My Son, The Puzzlemaster
by Jason Wisdom
My son is 2 years old. He loves to do puzzles. He has gotten to the point now where he can do a 24 piece puzzle by himself. Of course, it has to be one that he has done a hundred times before. If you put a brand new puzzle in front of him, he won’t get very far without help. Sure, he could look at the box, but he is 2 years old, and he doesn’t always make the connection. But with his own puzzles, he already knows how the pieces fit together. He has them memorized. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I should say that he has different major portions of the puzzles memorized. He will put together the part with Winnie the Pooh and then move on to build Tigger or some other section that he knows very well. By the time he gets most of the little sections put together, it isn’t hard for him to fill in the gaps with the less obvious pieces. He doesn’t know exactly how the border pieces fit together or where the pieces that compose the background go. But that doesn’t matter, because once he has all of the major parts put together, he can easily find all of the pieces a home. The only time he really
runs into problems is when he dumps out his box of puzzles on the floor (which he loves to do), and the pieces from a dozen different pictures get jumbled together. He knows how to do the Thomas the Train puzzle and the Winnie the Pooh puzzle, but the two don’t go together very well (no matter how hard he tries to smash them into place).
I think there is something really important that can be learned from watching my son do a puzzle. If you know what the major portions of the picture look like, you can find a home for the pieces that are giving you trouble. However, you won’t have much luck trying to put pieces from one puzzle into another. Even if you manage to smash a few extraneous pieces into places they don’t belong, it will just mess up the bigger picture.
In a certain way, we are all attempting to put together the puzzle of reality. We want to know where all of the little pieces go. Like my 2 year old son, we have the box right in front of us (reality itself), but that doesn’t mean that we always know how to use it to put the pieces together. We even have a few different sets of very specific directions on how the puzzle fits together (religious and philosophical texts), but they don’t all seem to be for the same puzzle. In the end, we have to take a trick out of my son, the puzzle master’s, playbook. We have to start by putting together the major portions that we can recognize right away…
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