Have you ever had the experience where you’ve been excited all week to go out to dinner or have some drinks, but by the time the night actually comes your brain is so fried — from a day of negotiating kid squabbles or staring at spreadsheets or whatever it is — that you feel like you have nothing of substance to bring to the conversation?
So you sit there trying to rewind to a time before the kid squabbles or the spreadsheets where you had actual thoughts to share, and wishing you could be more present. And if both of you are feeling the same way at the same time, that can be especially dispiriting!
Which is why, this week is brought to you by the humble but magical thing that is the jigsaw puzzle.
That’s okay. I understand. Maybe puzzles feel a little too old-timey?
Really quick, let me share why they’re so great.
The Puzzle Effect
Probably unsurprisingly, I’ve never raced home from work to put together a puzzle, or made Friday night plans around working on one, but I’ve also never been disappointed by the times spent methodically working through a mess of pieces with someone.
And I have a theory — we’ll call it the puzzle effect — that puzzles take all the pressure off. They create a special kind of space for being together.
For one thing, the main event — at least as it appears — is organizing pieces into edges and middles. You can talk, or not talk. And because you’re occupied hunting for matches, even eye contact is not required. It’s time shared with no expectations to say something or be something.
Consequently, any conversations that do emerge from puzzle time are generally the unhurried kind and don’t require the same pace or patter of conversations in other settings because of the task at hand.
And that makes for a lovely way to connect.
Clear the Table
At some point this week, consider clearing off the table and pulling out a puzzle. It doesn’t have to be a big event. You can put on a pot of tea and turn on some music (movie sound tracks work great for this type of thing), and spend an hour or two sorting the edges and middles. And in the process enjoy the company!
P.S. I’d love to try one of these New Yorker cover puzzles!