I once worked with a chap named Tony, and Tony had a hard time understanding why I prefer to spend my lunch break in Mr. John room doing puzzles, instead of doing what everyone does on their lunch break. I guess this troubled him a lot to an extent that one day, he decided to face his demon and confront us about it. One day while we were busy putting together a puzzle, he showed up and asked what was so special about puzzles. Since I was deeply concentrated on this puzzle that had taken weeks to complete, and the last thing I wanted was a distraction, I looked up and calmly said, “Tony, the doctor said it is good for our brains.”
Nothing eats into the soul than telling someone something and all they do is shake their head and not utter a word. So, Tony’s reaction left no doubt that he thought the doctor’s advice was full of crap. I decided when I bumped to him next time to tell him the truth about why I am fascinated by puzzles. Unfortunately, he changed jobs and I never got to see him again.
I am hoping miraculously that he will get to see my blog so I can explain to him why we were obsessed with puzzles. Hopefully Mr. John will echo my sentiment (RIP buddy, I still take one for you). So Tony, us doing puzzles taught us valuable lessons about everyday life, and I will tell you some of the things I learned from putting puzzles together:
1. Puzzles come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have many pieces, some have fewer pieces, some are easier to put together, others are harder to put together, while some will leave you wondering and asking questions. The same is true about life; we all have been given life and none of our lives are the same. Some people will have easy lives, some will have harder lives, some will have longer lives, and some will have shorter lives, and so on. The only way to figure out how to put your life together is by concentrating on your life without comparing it to anyone else, because no two lives are the same.
2. While trying to put our lives together, so as to have the lives that we desire, we will constantly find ourselves rearranging, be it our careers, friends, beliefs, jobs, and many other things. It’s only when we accept that without doing the necessary changes, we will never progress towards having the lives we want. So, is true about puzzles too, sooner or later you will realize that you have to keep rearranging and changing the pieces to complete the puzzle. If you resist making those changes and rearranging the pieces, you will never have a complete puzzle.
3. Some puzzles will take you months to complete and you will spend countless hours thinking about what could be the mistake you are making, or maybe the puzzle is missing pieces, or at times you will be tempted to give up. But after doing a lot of puzzles, I have learned that if you don’t give up and keep trying and ignore all the voices shouting excuses in our head, you will always complete the puzzle. So, no matter how much you feel like your life is a mess and can not be redeemed, once you learn how to shut down all voices screaming excuses as to why you should give up and decide to keep on pushing and thinking critically, sooner or later, you will find a way to live the life that you want.
4. Nothing is more rewarding at the end of the day than having successfully put a puzzle together. At that particular moment, it does not count how long it took, how difficult it was, or how many sleepless nights you spent. All that matters is that the puzzle is complete. The same goes for life: At the end of the day, what will matter most when we are lying in our death bed is if we lived the life we wanted, and not how many friends we lost along the way, how many sleepless nights we spent, how many questions we never found answers to, or simply how much pain we endured.
Finally, Tony, I still stand by the answer I told you: it’s true that study after study has shown that puzzles have countless benefits to our brains. So next time we meet, pull up a chair and let’s put together some pieces.