When was the last time you put together a puzzle? Is it something you enjoy or something you dread? Does it test your patience or test your ability to finish a project?

Hendrix joy
Managing Editor / Progressive Forage

Puzzles, captivating minds for centuries, range from ancient riddles to modern brainteasers, testing our problem-solving skills and offering mental stimulation. They provide not only entertainment but also cognitive benefits and stress relief.

Puzzles are made for a variety of skill sets and ages. My 3-year-old loves to go to the library and put together puzzles. Of course, for him, they are seldom over a dozen pieces and can be completed by someone with a rather short attention span, but over the past few weeks I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about puzzles as my cousins and I completed one together.

You see, trickier puzzles make you analyze every portion of the piece. You must take into consideration color, texture and shape all at once. They challenge your mind, and sitting in silence as your mind works to piece it together is the perfect opportunity to do some deeper thinking.

The more I think about it, the more I see how everything in life can be put together like a puzzle. For example, the flag on the cover of this issue. At first glance, it is the standard red, white and blue symbol of the great country we live in that we are all familiar with – but past that, it is 50 white stars, seven red stripes and six white stripes all arranged into the familiar shape we know. Those simple shapes separately are meaningless, but together they symbolize the great things about the country that we all celebrate the opportunity to live in each July.


The same concept applies to our lives. Imagine life as a giant jigsaw puzzle, where each piece represents a different aspect of our experiences, relationships and personal growth. Some pieces are brightly colored, symbolizing joyful moments and achievements, while others are darker, representing challenges and hardships. Each piece comes together in the end to create a complete and complex picture. It’s not easy to achieve, and it’s impossible to see the big picture just looking at a handful of pieces.

While I enjoy puzzles, the only reason my family and I worked on one together is because my grandmother loved puzzles. She passed away a few weeks ago and left her most recent puzzle unfinished on the back porch on the table, where she has had a puzzle set up for so much of my life. The day she passed, I knew we needed to finish that puzzle, and over the next week, we all pitched in where we could. I let my son place the last piece in his great-grandmother's final puzzle a few hours after her burial, and I couldn’t help but get emotional over the metaphor of a finished puzzle showing a completed picture, just like we finally knew all the pieces that showed the image of my grandmother's life.

We all allowed ourselves to take in the moment, and although no one voiced it, we all had the same thought – what a beautiful image it was.