the local library branches lay out jigsaw puzzles for the general public. i hover over them, anxiously, at times; they are a heatsink for extraneous energy that needs to be rapidly dumped. sometimes, people stop and chat at me while i'm quietly sorting pieces, and i rarely want to chat back. sometimes, another silent pair of hands join me, and we each stake out our quadrant of the mat.

it irritates me greatly when i arrive at a partially-completed puzzle and prior participants have clearly haphazardly assembled pieces far out of position. the pieces align in a grid; my intuitive extrapolation of the image onto the grid is clearly not shared by all. but, i talk myself down from this, because the puzzle is a shared resource. the puzzle is not mine alone to complete.

sometimes i arrive at a bare mat, and instead of assembling pieces, i start sorting them and grouping pieces that will obviously join, leaving the satisfaction of clicking together the protrusions to the next person. their delight at having so many easy connections to make is contagious, and i feed on the sense that collectively we have done something good.

sometimes, i want to stay and finish the puzzle. sometimes, i cannot bear to walk away and leave gaps. sometimes, the notion of completing it breaks my heart, because i know that until a new puzzle arrives, subsequent contributors will have nothing to do.

12 June 2018 22:06

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