It’s a mystery

By Josh Albrecht

So there I sit, starring intensely at the picture on the cardboard box in front of me.

The picture portrays a calm setting, likely somewhere in Maine or possibly Alaska, and it features a dock with some fish nets on it, along with a row of fishing boats waiting patiently for the next fishing run.

But there is something different about this picture. For you see, this picture represents what 500 jigsaw cut pieces of cardboard should look like once they are put back together.

In other words, it’s a jigsaw puzzle, and it is one of the most mind-boggling and difficult things that I will ever do in my life.

Sure, I have done other types of puzzles like crossword puzzles, but the jigsaw puzzle has a life of its own.

And despite popular belief that puzzles are only for “old” people or for people who like puzzles, this is entirely not true. Puzzles are for everyone.

I heard a legend a long time ago about people who can do a 1,000-piece puzzle in one night and about people who can actually put together a 3D puzzle, but honestly, I don’t think they exist.

I once tried to put together the 3D puzzle version of the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s groovy ship from “Star Wars,” and I quit after 10 minutes. My mind was completely overcome with the puzzle’s tomfoolery, and I can honestly say that there is nothing more difficult in this world.

Except for maybe trying to talk with 30 green grapes in your mouth.

Now, the Millennium Falcon puzzle resides on a shelf at my home and laughs at me everytime I walk by it, and I say to myself, “someday.”

However, while the 3D puzzles proved to be too much for me, my recent voyage into the world of puzzles proved to be a conquest.

Exactly two weeks ago, I purchased my fishing scene puzzle for 98 cents (which I think was a bargain as far as puzzles go) and proceeded to spend countless (roughly, eight) hours attempting to piece it together.

I would sit, Coke in hand, and examine the variations in colors trying to make those tiny pieces fit together. Sure, I should have been doing homework, but we have to have priorities.

But the more I studied, the more I began to freak out. I would run my hand through my hair and shake my head slowly at how insanely difficult it was to put together 500 pieces of puzzle.

Finally, realizing that I needed a plan of attack, I decided to go through the puzzle by taking baby steps. And in retrospect, through doing this puzzle, I learned that doing a puzzle is a lot like doing a test for class.

And so it began.

Step one was to complete the outer shell or frame of the puzzle, which gave me a base to work off of and provided me with the first building block for success.

Then, I started in on the bottom portion of the puzzle which consisted mainly of the fish net. I quickly realized that this was the most difficult part of the puzzle and decided to come back to it later.

Step two consisted of me attempting to connect the two vertical sides of the puzzle by creating a bridge through its middle. During this portion of the puzzle process, I preached about how important the bridge portion of doing a puzzle is because it gives you a second base to work from.

This plan worked, and quickly the rest of the puzzle began to come together.

But as it came down to crunch time, some pieces started to look like others, and I would waste time trying to fit pieces together that were actually located very far apart.

It was also during this stage of the puzzle process when I put into practice the concept of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

As it turns out, that motto is pretty good.

So finally, at 2 a.m. last Wednesday, the puzzle came to a conclusion. I looked at my hard work and felt an intense wave of pride wash over me.

And then I realized that the puzzle really didn’t look like the picture but rather a distorted version of the picture. But still, I was happy.

As it turns out, I learned some things about my epic adventure with the puzzle.

I learned that if I keep trying, I can succeed at anything.

I learned that 98 cents can provide hours of entertainment, even if Doug Flutie and Terry Bradshaw can make a 20-minute phone call for that price. They have to pay 99 cents.

I learned that it is sometimes better to step away from a problem and come back fresh a while later so that your mind is clear.

And I learned that the word “puzzle” sort of rhymes with “pretzel.”

Plus, I think I might be ready for the Millennium Falcon and possibly those grapes.