June 2, 2017

2 06 2017

Puzzles again.

Perhaps they are so satisfying because they are problems with definite answers. In a world where problems often have no solution, or the solution is so complicated and baffling that it is beyond us, puzzles provide relief and comfort. Here is something I can solve. Here is something which, if I persist, will reward me with the satisfaction of resolution. I understand how to do, for example, a jigsaw puzzle, although crosswords or sudoku are much the same. I can be certain that there is a way to put the pieces together that makes a complete, coherent picture.

I don’t know how to solve the problems of people I know who are suffering, who have health issues, money problems, miserable relationships or just cope with depression and despair. The labyrinth of human relationships remains always an incomprehensible conundrum to me. The black box of my own psyche remains impenetrable. I do my best to try to worry loose threads of the tangle, but in the end, all I can do is throw up my hands and let go of it. I’ll never figure it out.

But puzzles, ah! I begin with a jumble of chaos, much as the world appears to be. One by one, I find pieces that fit together. Slowly a picture begins to emerge. And finally, it is all there. I have done it. I have figured it out. It is finite, sensible. Within my grasp.

I have done my puzzle for the day. Now, daunting as it is, I need to apply myself to the puzzle of living. A room the size of a gymnasium whose floor is covered with puzzle pieces. Over the course of my life I’ve worked out some of it; there are sections I’ve managed to put together. The rest? Futility.

There are those who claim to have solved the puzzle. I don’t believe them. The more certain they are, the less I trust them. These voices of certainty all say something different. Their answers don’t agree. One may be right; all are likely wrong; or there is some logic-defying Schrodinger’s cat of a way that they can all be right at once. Even that is a puzzle.

Never mind. The sun is shining briefly after days of clouds and rain, and the prediction of more rain and clouds to come. Let me do what I can and turn my face to the sun while it lasts.

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4 responses

4 06 2017
Mary Jolles

I, too, like solving the “solveable” puzzles such as sudoku because of the feeling of satisfaction they bring. I’ve learned to accept the small satisfactions of giving assistance to fellow human beings as my “daily dose.” Maybe that’s why I found teaching so satisfying. What really excites me, though, and makes me feel that I am close to “solving the puzzle” is when my single act of helping precipitates other acts by other people that ripple through the community. Through these small but repeated actions by a number of people, a culture is created.

4 06 2017
justinegraykin

I agree. We live by the connections and cooperation that makes a healthy community. This is the problem with political/social views that emphasize independence and self-reliance. They are blind to what most human beings need in order to be happy. They need to feel useful by being able to help one another, and know the security that their fellows are there to help them when needed.

5 06 2017
Mary Jolles

Perhaps instead of emphasizing “independence” we should be stressing “competence.” No one is truly independent, but all of us can be competent and effective.

5 06 2017
justinegraykin

Yes. By striving to be the best person we can be as individuals, we are better able to help others to do the same. That way we all thrive.

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