Jigsaw puzzles are good therapy. I gather, based on the ads I see online, that a lot of people rediscovered them during the Covid shutdown. I came back to puzzling late, but we’ve got a puzzle going now. It’s an interesting lesson in psychology.

First, you must understand this isn’t a simple puzzle. It’s one I’ve had for years and never tried because it was completely daunting. It is a geopolitical map of the planet, but the oceans are black and the continents are made of flowers. Lots of flowers.

I opened the box a couple of weeks back and just stared. Then I closed the box again.


A few days later, I started pulling out the border pieces. It didn’t take long to get them together, more or less. But there were a few pieces missing, which means some were in the wrong place. I’d have to put the rest of it together to figure out where I went wrong.

I put on my big-girl pants, as my daughter-in-law would say, and I started working on one flower in South America. It was a vivid, primary yellow. I figured I could at least find that much.

Within a few days, all the Americas were complete, minus a couple of stray pieces.

Then my partner stepped in, and he got addicted, too.

Puzzles offer not only long-term rewards, but short, little jolts of achievement that come with each session. We have both laughed about how outsized the pleasure is when we find two pieces that fit together after a long search. Completing a flower or connecting to the border? Downright euphoria.

Last night I started on Asia and Africa, which are blue and pink respectively. KB’s fixating on the names of the islands and the oceans.

We worked on it together for more than an hour last night.

During that puzzling time, we didn’t think about anything except the problem at hand. And it was a problem we could solve, maybe.

I think this one will be done sooner than I expected. And then I’m starting another puzzle. I can keep this up as long as necessary.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.