Sweetheart and I like to do puzzles.
We can’t help it. They intrigue us. We get a feeling of accomplishment when we have solved one. (We won’t mention what we do when we don’t solve one.) It also keeps our minds active and functional.
At our age, we need all the help we can get.
We like to involve other people, too. When people come to visit and we run out of conversation, sometimes we will get out our box of riddles. In fact, that’s what we did for entertainment at our fifth wedding anniversary party. We had close friends over to celebrate with us and the activity brought us even closer. It was an outside party under a pavilion and the weather was cold and rainy. We needed to be close.
So, anyway, Sweetheart and I can’t wait for the New Castle News to arrive, so we can read the comics and do the puzzles — after we’ve read the news, of course. As we sit at the table, eating our meal, we take pen in hand and work on our favorite type of brain teaser. Sweetheart likes to do the Wonder Word and Sudoku. I gravitate to the crossword puzzle and Word Jumble. Sometimes, our food gets cold, but our brains are getting fed. Sometimes, we are late leaving the house for the dance or whatever the adventure of the day might be.
We’re OK with that.
Well, every so often (more often than I would like), I get stumped when I’m trying to unscramble a word of fill in the little crossword boxes. Try as I may, I am stymied. Sometimes, we collaborate on the puzzle. (Don’t call it cheating. It’s called teamwork.) That usually works but, sometimes, it doesn’t. You could say that I get discouraged and that could be true, but that’s when I realize that I have more important things to do.
However, a couple of hours later, or even the next day, I pick up the newspaper and look at the puzzle again. Lo and behold! It all becomes clear and I whip right through the puzzle like nobody’s business!
All it took was a break — a little rest and relaxation — to open up new avenues of thought that could produce results. At other times, all it takes is for me to move from one puzzle to another and, when I come back to the one that had me stumped, I can finish it.
The same thing happens when I have an idea about how I would like to do something, or how I would like to say something. Try as I may, I can’t find the right word or the right approach. Once I explain it to Sweetheart, or another person I admire and respect, the answer suddenly comes to me. They don’t even have to open their mouth. Just voicing the situation is enough to elicit a solution.
I think this must be one of those times when stepping outside your box — or line of reasoning — is all it takes to open up new horizons. Who knows what you can accomplish when you do.
Dorothy Knight Burchett is a former newspaper columnist and the author of “Miles and Miracles,” available at Pokeberry Exchange in New Castle and on Amazon.