A Puzzling Mystery, Part II

Like a mystery novel, the mystery of how I became an avid jigsaw puzzler in 2020 is more straight-forward than why. In 2019, I wouldn’t have tried a jigsaw puzzle. I’d watched my wife do them years earlier, and it just didn’t appeal to me.

What changed?

The lockdown in the Spring and Summer of 2020 had an unanticipated silver lining: a pause. That pause of staying at home gave me and others the opportunity to slow down.

I think I’d actually be interested in puzzling all along, but had been intimidated by it. I had enjoyed fast moving video game “puzzlers” like Tetris Attacks, Columns, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, and others. Those games all capture a fundamental aspect to jigsaw puzzling–finding the piece that fits.

Of course, jigsaw puzzling has much more to it than that. Subject is important. I have a friend who is a talented amateur photograph and routinely sends photos of potential puzzles. They don’t appeal to me as much as they do to him, but that’s not to say that the subjects won’t make a fine puzzle. They just wouldn’t for me.

The Gradient Moon puzzle at the top of this post is an example of a subject which I love–Luna and astronomy. The same for the Solar System panorama puzzle we did in 2020.

Discovering puzzle subjects that I loved really increased the appeal.

But, it really came down making order out of chaos–building an image from a jumble. Even more “elementary” than that, it came down the satisfaction of plugging the right puzzle piece into the right spot.

It meant sorting puzzle pieces into colors and shapes. It meant doing the edge first.

In the process, I fell hard for puzzling and my wife rekindled her own passion for puzzling.

We discovered Karen Puzzles, a YouTuber who spreads the joy of puzzling and has now gone full time pursuing her puzzling passion. Karen tackles changing puzzles, including a twenty-fourth thousand piece monster and does so with humor and fun. Karen collects and does old puzzles, and mystery puzzles, and gradient puzzles.

Most of all, I find puzzling relaxing, when I’m not too caught up in trying to puzzle as fast as my wife LeAnn or Karen, and take it at my own pace.

Joy and relaxation are at the heart of the solution to this mystery.

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