Puzzles bring people together to challenge their ability to transform pieces into a beautiful picture. This was no exception when Charlie and I dump all 3,000 pieces on a large table in the gathering place of our community.
Unaware this puzzle would challenge our self-confidence in puzzling—since we were known as the puzzle experts in our community, we rush into separating the pieces on a separate table, while the onlookers appear stunned over the number of pieces piled there.
Layers and Layers of predominately green stare us in the face with no pattern to define where it should go. How could we find a piece when the pieces were three-inches deep? There’s only so much room for separation and spreading out pieces!
A week has gone by and the outline of the puzzle placement is under debate. A few onlookers believe it should go on the right side, while others were adamant about the left side. Putting it together and dismantling it over two-months, we finally, in the third month have the outline of the puzzle together correctly.
Frustrated and defeated, Charlie is ready to pay Tony to tear it up so we could have an excuse to put it back in the box. Not all of us were ready to give up on this puzzle challenge, though. We soothe Charlie’s bruised ego and he agrees to continue.
Tony decides he can encourage Charlie by showing him that it’s possible to put it together in a matter-of-fact way. But after three-days, Tony was never seen again around the puzzle.
Every day spectators would pick up a piece and believe it was possible to place it in the puzzle, only to be defeated and frustrated that the piece they thought belonged there was not the right piece at all. Beat and embarrassed, the spectators inconspicuously disappear, but the challenge is still there.
Charlie, off to one side, takes individual pieces and tries to make sense of it all. Some days one or two pieces were added to the puzzle. The rate we are going, it may take a year to see it completed, if we preserve.
Questions and comments plague us to discourage our tenacious attitude. “Do you think you have what it takes to complete this puzzle?” “You have been on this puzzle for a long time and we need the space for other things.” “Has this puzzle defeated you?” “Why do you want to put this puzzle together?” “Are you ready to give up on the puzzle?” “It’s impossible to put together.” “You said you would have the puzzle together in a week, but I see you have a long way to go.”
Some weeks we made progress and others were stand-stills. Rachel encourages us with food, as we keep our nose in the puzzle.
After hours of separating pieces, a challenged old man sits in his wheel chair sifting and mixing the pieces together, while children entertain themselves by walking off with pieces to play with elsewhere. And even Charlie manages to bring home some pieces in his shoe.
Recovering from the setbacks, we finally see the end in sight. By the end of the fourth month the puzzle is completed. Charlie thinking it is the last of the dammed puzzle he has to look at gives in to my request to make it into a mounted picture for our wall. How could we dismantle this puzzle when it took a fourth of our year from us? Charlie just has to get use to the idea that this puzzle will hang there to remind him of his focus and perseverance.