In defence of jigsaws

Jigsaws can teach you about the beauty of the world and about its complexity. For example, try putting together a puzzle which shows a picture of a forest and you’ll learn that no matter how similar trees look they aren’t the same. If you persevere, you’ll learn what those differences are and how to find the pieces you need.

Jigsaws teach you how to look. You learn to identify connections and similarities in a jumble of tiny fragments. You see details in a photograph you never noticed when the image was whole: light falling on a wall, making a little patch of it brighter than the rest. The shape of a petal, the change in the colour of the sea as it recedes to the horizon.

You learn to be flexible and not to rely on a single approach. The challenges of monochrome are different from those of colour. A repeating pattern requires a different strategy than the one you might use for a landscape. You learn patience!

But the other important thing you learn, if you embrace a hobby like putting together jigsaws (or anything similarly unfashionable), is to be true to yourself and your own interests. Don’t waste your life doing things to impress others. That’s probably the most useful lesson of all.