Finding Calm with a Puzzle

The other week I started a puzzle: a beautiful landscape scene of a river between mountains under a clear blue sky. It’s the type of landscape I love and the type of place I’d like to visit.

It’s been years since I’ve worked on a puzzle. Too many years to count. Other than trying to plug in a few pieces in an ongoing puzzle with family, I haven’t cleared the space on a coffee table or dining table for my own. Until recently. I’d given it some thought recently as I saw puzzles with the kind of images I like (beautiful landscapes or picturesque cityscapes I wouldn’t mind spending some time on). As I’ve tried to incorporate more mindfulness practices, I came across an article about puzzles as almost a kind of meditation.

That was the push I needed.

I had the puzzle for a few weeks before I opened it and carefully – painstakingly – sorted through the small pieces for all my edge pieces. Painstakingly because my cat decided to help. The challenge was trying to keep the pieces contained while still pulling out all the edges without dumping the pieces all over the table. Anyone else have pets trying to help?

No telling where those pieces may end up…which I guess could be a practice in letting go.

There is a sense of pride at finishing that exterior frame, of seeing the border coming together and then the anticipation of completing the interior. There’s also something peaceful about shifting through the pieces, collecting a few that you might need and placing them on the table. It’s an exercise in order, in organization. It would be a mess to dump all the pieces out – though maybe on a large enough table (with no cats) it might work. I like to try to shift through to pick out sections that I think match the section I’m working on. The rest go back in the box.

Time passed without my noticing. And it was nice and satisfying. Calming. In addition to creating order, there was a sense of accomplishment when I could l see the slight growth in the corner I worked on, maybe with another little section that I happened to put together after noticing a pattern between some pieces.

These little sections will grow and connect to each other, building larger and larger pieces of the puzzle together to form the final scene. Sure, I know I’ll eventually break the puzzle apart after I get there, but it’ll be nice to let the full landscape rest on the table for a bit once it’s completed. It’ll be a reminder of what concentration and patience can put together and also an invitation for the next one.


Patricia returned to Texas after spending several years on both coasts. She's a writer, amateur photographer and traveler.

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