Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jigsaw Lessons - The Unexpected Benefits of Analog

“Regardless what technology is, I like analog too.” Lou Graham
Seeing everyone with their nose stuck to a phone lately has made me want to go more analog. Way analog, like 1976 analog. So I got a jigsaw puzzle. It’s an image of New York City’s Times Square. I picked it because I love New York and it makes me think happy thoughts of all my friends who live there.
Work on the puzzle has been going well. As I make my way through it I suddenly realized I’m gaining some special life lessons along with the sense of completion.
The first is: have something meditative in your life. Most of the time, my brain is streaming constantly with thoughts. But when I do the jigsaw they grow quiet. It’s such a visual activity that the only thoughts that come up are, “Is it you?,” “Where are you hiding?,” and “There you are you little nuisance!” I’ve never been successful at meditation but other activities that require focus and quiet the mind offer similar benefits. Far from tiring me, I find my puzzle makes me feel refreshed, and as long as I continue to find ways to have my own version of a meditative practice, be it yoga, a dance class or some other hobby, I’ll continue to reap these benefits.
My next discovery is that the piece you’re looking for is already there. As I start to complete a section, often there is one pesky piece that seems to be missing. I have a kitty cat who is into everything so I thought maybe she got up on the table at night and batted a few pieces around. But so far, every time I’ve kind of given up on locating a specific piece, one day is just shows up in the mix, having been sitting there all along.
How many times have you been startled to discover a truth you’re seeking has been sitting inside you? Sometimes we forget we don’t need anything external to validate us because we are already whole and complete.
Lately instead of assuming I don’t know something or need to go look for it, I trust it’s already inside and will reveal itself in due time, even if it might not look the way I expected. I can’t tell you how stress-reducing this approach has been.
One final thing that’s been soothing about the puzzle has been a connection to the past. I work on it on my dining room table, which was originally my grandparents, who I dearly loved. They used it for fifty years before it passed to me and I have enjoyed countless meals, holidays and many a childhood jigsaw puzzle on this exact table. There’s even a picture of me eating my first birthday cake on it when I turned one year old.
I can so clearly connect to my childhood and teenage self as I work on my puzzle and it gives me a feeling of connection and continuity, of life progressing properly thought its chapters and seasons. It puts the troubles of the day into perspective. I’m not advocating we all life in the past of course, but having little touchstones of it can give the present more depth and meaning.
I didn’t know when I opened the jigsaw box that it would hold such unexpected treasure. Technology is great and makes life much easier, but there is still a role for the analog in a life well lived. Maybe I can encourage you to go a little analog with a pre-digital hobby and see what it offers you.