woman doing a jigsaw
If you've got nothing to do get yourself a jigsaw. My blog highlights the joy that awaits you - and perhaps a crushing disappointment too!

The benefits of a jigsaw puzzle

At the time of writing half of the world is in isolation – I am in that half.  I’m looking for ways to spend my time that do not involve television or internet and I found in the back of a cupboard – a jigsaw!

It strikes me that there are many benefits of completing a jigsaw at this (or any other) time:

  • Patience – a long forgotten virtue.  In the world that we have (temporarily) left behind, we sought instant gratification.  If a website didn’t load in milliseconds it was marked down.  Having to wait for a downloaded file was an irritation, and we expected to be able to contact anyone at any time via a device in our hand.  Not with a jigsaw – hours of patience are required to complete this task. Milliseconds have no value here.
  • Organisation – my own particular method, long forgotten but now retrieved from the depths of my aging brain – is to separate all of the edge pieces and complete the outline.  Then layout each piece, face up, on boards around the living room table so that the whole puzzle is available to me.  The puzzle itself sits in the centre, teasing me to insert a piece as I pass. An hour later, still searching.  It’s good for the soul.
  • Exercise – sitting is not allowed.  Standing is good for your health.
    Slumping for hours in a sendentary TV watching position is not.
  • Mental stimulation – finding that elusive piece requires concentration, diligence, alertness.  You don’t need any of those to watch another episode of Murder She Wrote.
  • Pleasure – the sheer unadulterated joy of finding that long-sought piece, gently lowering it into place, the satisfying click of a well cut join – these are the highlights of your current mundane existence.  That’s the most fun you’ll have all day.
  • It’s a positive act – you are physically doing something.  The mental benefits must be clear – leap out of bed each morning and get to that board!
  • Determination – you only fail if you quit.  The sight of all those pieces, randomly scattered and depressingly numerous, can be daunting.  But give up you must not, for then you will be denied the ultimate pleasure.  The last piece, the final reveal – the big picture.
  • A sense of achievement – when you have your puzzle laid out before, the perfect image,  you can stand back and admire your work.  Share the image with your friends, who will I am sure be wholly impressed.
  • Finally, the pleasure of smashing apart all that you have laboured for hours to create, in a frenzy of childish abandon. (Warning – if you have a heart conditon consult your doctor before strenuous exercise).

But – there are some pitfalls too.  This particular jigsaw, the one that I discovered buried in a cupboard, is not new.  I know this because the pieces are wrapped in a plastic bag  – I suspect purchased in a charity shop, always a good source of cheap amusement.  A secondhand jigsaw means the dreadful possibility of – the missing piece.  The denial of that aforementioned completion joy – having laboured for hours to make sense of a thousand small bits of cardboard, only to discover that some careless previous user had saved only 999 of them.  That should in fact be a crime.

On the other hand, that is part of the joy too, in a masochistic way.  Because there is no guarantee with a second hand jigsaw – only the hope that your fellow dissectologist ( a word that I didn’t even know existed before I wrote this blog) has been  diligent in the piece storage department.

In fact lets have a shout for the Benevolent Confraternity of Dissectologists – a club for followers of Jigsaw Puzzles.  These guys have been hiding in the shadows for too long, but their time has come.  The enforced isolation of large parts of the globe is a huge opportunity for them, and I’m doing my part to raise their profile.

If you really must, there is an online version –   But most of the pleasures that I mention above are denied in this format so it’s only for the addicted.  When the fun stops, stop.

Conclusion

Well ok, it’s not going to solve the Coronavirus problem, or in fact any of the issues currently facing humanity (except obesity).  But the jigsaw is a part of our history, culture, and a way to while away a few hours until we can socialise once more.  The humble jigsaw has many benefits – not least of which is that it does not require a screen.
piece

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