February 9, 2022
February 23, 2022


All 654 pieces of this puzzle are silver. The design starts in the middle and circles out.  

Persisting can be really, really hard.  It can also be really satisfying.  This puzzle was both.  “Oh, my G!! Who invented this thing?” And, “wait, I see a pattern!” Persistence is so often necessary.  

For the record, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to persist. Ditch the soul-sucking job, walk away from the toxic relationship, quit perfection. Persistence is great when you are on a path you want to complete.  

When you are on a rewarding path, there are many ways to persist. 

The methodological approach

Gather all the pieces of the same shape and put them in one pile. Piece after piece try them in the puzzle.  Some go in, most do not. Every time a piece doesn’t work, set it in a new pile. Then repeat the process. After every pass, the pile shrinks and the puzzle is filled in.  

This method of persistence also works for decluttering, building a PowerPoint, and teaching children manners. Over and over repeat the process making some progress every time. 

The strategic approach

Choose an interesting looking piece and study it. Notice all the colors and lines. Using the box lid and the unfinished puzzle, figure out what sort of space you need and search it out. Only then try it out, or group it with related pieces to build a section. Over time your eye becomes familiar with this landscape. You get to the point where you know where a piece goes by the tilt of that edge. 

Strategy is helpful when planning group events, cooking full meals, and coordinating travel plans. The research and advanced planning kicks in just when you need it. 

Taking a break

This may not look like persistence to an outsider. When doing a puzzle with lots of pieces you have got to take a break. (Same for living through a pandemic.) “Ok, this section is finished, I need to give my back a stretch.” Walk away so that you have the strength or focus to return. This usually results in less frustration and greatly decreases the chance that you dump the whole mess back into the box. (One puzzle frustrated me so much that I painted all the pieces white and used them for a crafting project.) 

Parenting, complicated work projects, and conflict resolution often benefit from breaks. Whew, I have done what I can. Time for food, rest, and getting a renewed perspective.  

The contextual approach

Detailed puzzles are best done in the right lighting. Too much light causes glare. Too little light and you cannot tell one piece from another. We plan puzzle time for when the light is right. If the light is low, we sort pieces in another room or only use the methodological approach which focuses on shape.  

Important conversations, creative work, and yard work all benefit from conditions being right. Sometimes that requires waiting, other times it means finding ways to do what you can, given the current conditions.  

I am sure there are other ways to persist, or to foster persistence. What are some methods that work for you given the tasks in your life?  

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Laura A. Gaines