Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puzzles

Colors must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel. ~Hans Hofmann

Last night Susie asked if I could get the bungee cord unstuck from the gate. The fish hook shaped end had somehow penetrated the lift mechanism and seemed impossible to dislodge without breaking it.

I went out and examined the situation, wiggling the piece a bit to see exactly what the hangup was. It reminded me of the countless puzzles my dad used to bring home when we were kids. The puzzles were often pieces of bent metal in various configurations which you had to figure out how to disassemble. Depending on your level of patience, these mind benders could sometimes torture you as you shifted and flipped things around.

On one occasion one of my brothers gave up in exasperation on one of these puzzles and went to bed. In the middle of the night he sat up, the answer clear in his mind, and he returned to resume working on the solution, which came almost instantly.

So it was that the bungee cord and flange reminded me of my youth. And in a moment, after pondering motionless for a half minute, I arrived at the elegant solution. A very clever puzzle which I will call Gate and Bungee, to be sold for $9.95 if I can get it manufactured at a reasonable price.

Wikipedia defines puzzle as "a problem or enigma that tests the ingenuity of the solver." Puzzles can often be a form of entertainment. Crossword puzzles are an addiction for some people. Math problems can be a puzzle, and I myself never tire of word puzzles like the Scramble that appears in our daily paper.

Many things in life can be considered puzzles. Doctors try to solve the puzzles of patients' symptoms in order to diagnose illness. Psychologists do the same for the labyrinthine recesses of the mind. Counsellors strive to understand the complexities of personalities in order to help people unlock their relationship puzzles. In business, marketing professionals often see the process of increasing sales and market share as a puzzle to solve.

And then there are those who wrestle with the meaning of life itself, the biggest puzzle of all. Even when you think you have a handle on the "big picture" it can test one endlessly to figure out where your piece fits in the whole.

In the meantime, life goes on all around you. Have a great day, if you can figure out what you want to wear and eat today. Don't make it more complicated than it already is.

Ciao.

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