Puzzle Therapy

I still remember a high school science vocabulary word that sneaks its way into my consciousness on a regular basis. Entropy. A quarter century after memorizing the term in Mr. Terman’s class, I still remember the definition of entropy as “a lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder.” And I think the word is so sticky because the world is such a chaotic place. We always seem to be moving from order to disorder — and not just in terms of physics. Emotional entropy and spiritual entropy dominate everyday life. And I’ve recently been wondering if that’s why I so regularly appreciate some puzzle therapy over the holidays.

Puzzles start out in their most chaotic form. They’re a jumbled mess of a thousand different pieces that seem to have no rhyme or reason. But with time and perseverance (preferably while listening to Christmas music and sipping a favorite drink), the chaos coalesces into a coherent picture. Either as an individual project or as a group project, puzzles pass the time with a soothing sense of restoring order and harmony.

Completed Christmas Stamps Puzzle

And we really need some order and harmony these days. Just today, we got a phone and email blast from the City of Kent announcing that our area is experiencing an overwhelming number of new COVID cases daily. Our zip code is currently seeing 1,642/100,000 cases per capita weekly — which is more than fifteen times the CDC’s threshold for a “high” level of transmission. Higher than anything we’ve seen since COVID first burst onto the scene. Crazy, huh? A little bit chaotic, don’t you think?

First Day of Winter Vacation = First Completed Puzzle

So yeah: I’m really appreciating the therapeutic benefits of doing puzzles here at the end of the year. We need something slow and homebound, while we continue to work our way through our latest adventures with COVID. Olivia and Cor are both feeling much better these days, so it feels like we just need to bide our time. Marci and I both cleared protocols yesterday with no symptoms and negative tests. Olivia is on her last day of isolation, with no symptoms. And it’s looking good for Cor to also clear protocols on Monday — which we hope will become our “Christmas Observed.” But in the meantime, we just have to keep waiting and bringing what little order we can bring to our chaotic corner of the world.

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