Coral Reef Puzzle
Reveal what there is to reveal, heal what there is to heal. The universe gifted me a big one this week and I totally almost missed it. It came in the mail a few days ago, a wooden puzzle with something like 384 wooden pieces that when completed made a picture of an underwater coral reef with fish.
When Mike opened the package his friend had sent, he seemed excited. “Look at this Ax,” he said. I thought to myself, “Oh wonderful, more stuff we don’t need, with hundreds of little foot-killer pieces.” I flashed back to some of the wedding presents Mike’s friends had given us, the hand-carved wooden motorcycle, the Jerry Garcia action figure, the bag of sacred rocks, and wondered, “Why?”
Meanwhile, Mike and Ax had scurried off into Ax’s room to work on the puzzle in peace, where I would be shielded from the inevitable mess and chaos such a project would entail. I let them go have their daddy-Axy time, gratefully.
I decided a long time ago, I’m not sure when, that a) puzzles suck, b) puzzles are totally lame, and c) I am terrible at puzzles. As I puttered around the house I could hear my dudes marveling at the colors and shapes, Mike praising Ax for his persistence in sorting colors, Ax’s squeals of excitement at near-connections. It sounded like they were having a blast – doing a puzzle. I got curious.
I went down the hall and opened the door to Ax’s room. A sea of individual pieces lay spread on the floor with seemingly no progress at all. The boys were beaming. I thought, “Thank, G-d my husband is willing to do this kind of thing.” I smiled at them, gave good mom style mumblings of how wonderful, and withdrew.
The next day after school Ax wanted to work on the puzzle again. I decided to let the work occupy the dining room table so I could be present without being trapped in his room, trapped with the puzzle. Since only two pieces had been connected thus far it was easy to relocate the project.
Mike came home and they began sorting colors, finding straight edges, and showing each other pieces of particular interest. Something happened and I decided to sit at the table with them. Without thinking, I began to work the puzzle too. It became hypnotic. I made connections. “Great job, mom,” Ax said. The three of us, together, were having a happy family activity moment, the kind of thing I thought we needed to go play catch on the beach at sunset to have.
My guys are willing to go play catch on the beach at sunset, but it’s a push, and then there’s that flogging them energy that’s hard to shake off once we’re there. Plus sunset is so close to dinnertime, and we don’t enjoy being hungry or rushed about that. Puzzle at the dining room table. That’s good stuff. There we were flowing – feeling good, together, supporting each other, connecting. And I was flowing – who knew?
Long after my men tired and moved on to other activities, I stayed at that table, working the puzzle, slogging through the seemingly impossible swaths of red coral and blue sea, marveling at the pieces and the humor of the puzzle designer.
It turns out that a) puzzles rock, and b) puzzles are kind of deep, and c) I am awesome at puzzles. I wonder what other beliefs I have that aren’t helping me fully enjoy this ride? I’m going to pay attention and try to remember the lesson of the coral reef puzzle.