When you have nothing to do, time just seems to go by so very sluggish.
One activity that many, myself included, devolve to in order to ward off boredom is the classic jigsaw puzzle. Personally, I've always hated them. Puzzles…they just seem so pointless.
I once found myself at my grandfather's house one weekend while my parents were out of town, enjoying their honeymoon, and I had absolutely nothing to do. My grandfather was an old fashioned fellow, one who had not but radio in terms of electronic entertainment. I was left there on the basis that Grandpa would take care of me, but, it was the opposite that was true. He seemed to need me more to take care of him than anything else. At his age, his mind was that of a child's. He didn't know much about this or that, and he would always be asking me questions about, well, everything really. And me? Well, I was your typical teenager, a pain to any sensible adult. Grandpa was very dull, and me being who I was, I would do anything not to talk to him.
In my attempt to distance myself from him, I started an old jigsaw puzzle he had stored in one of the hallway cabinets. All the pieces seemed faded and worn, as if they had been used many times before. I started the daunting puzzle that consisted of 1,500 small wooden pieces, all in an effort to occupy myself. He, my grandfather, would see me working on the puzzle at the dining room table, and, for some reason, left me be. Pretty strange considering I'd have thought he would come up and ask what I was doing.
At first, I was lazily connecting pieces here and there, mostly by chance. There were times where I'd try to, unsuccessfully, put two pieces together despite knowing that they wouldn't after but the first time. It was all too painfully boring. I honestly felt that any alternative would've been much better than this, but, as my dull gramps was the only alternative that there was, I continued on.
As time went by, I started connecting more and more pieces, actually getting some progress done. I found myself actually getting into it as I'd work my way from the corners inward. I was so involved that I hadn't even realized when the hours that made up the day were gone and it was already night out. It was funny, really. I hated boredom so much that I actually invested an entire day into a stupid puzzle…
It was already nearing three as I neared completion of the monstrous and, surprisingly time consuming, puzzle. I had but a single jigsaw to play, but, no more left to place. I felt devastated. An entire day wasted, all for a fruitless endeavor. A selfish endeavor, I realized, as I stared at the incomplete picture. It was a beautiful nature shot, one with lots of greenery. There was nothing but woods and wildlife, and even a little creek to which a majestic deer was drinking from. In the trees were colorful birds and many bushes seemed beautifully decorated with their bountiful supply of berries and such. Even the sky seemed alluring, an angelic golden glow streaked through the sky as the sun seemed to be rising. Such a beautiful picture, one that showed the grace of life and the earth, and yet, it was incomplete.
"Missing a piece, eh?" I turned to see my grandfather, standing behind me for who knows how long, just watching me stare at the picture. He continued, "Tell me, what would happen if you finish it?"
I took a minute before eventually replying.
"It wouldn't matter. It'll still be over. The experience was about piecing it all together; what happened, what I did. The end is just an end. There is no fun in the end, no happiness." I saw as a warm and gentle smile spread across his lips, and I turned away, a bit ashamed at how sentimentally deep I had gotten over a simple puzzle.
"Sounds a lot like life, doesn't it?"
I turned to him, to my grandfather, at such solemn words. Still, he wore that soft and gentle smile, but now, there was more. His eyes seemed deep and burdened, truly expressing his age, expressing at how tired he has become. He reached out his wrinkled hand and lay but a single jigsaw piece on the table before me, not bothering to fit it into its place.
"Never forget that," he said to me.
And I never did. After that experience, I lived, truly and wholly lived, rather than waste my life away with stupid things. I experienced.
My grandfather didn't seem so smart, but in actuality, he was a wise man who changed the way I saw life.