As someone who loves words, I enjoy doing the occasional crossword puzzle.
Sometimes one word after another is filled in with relative ease and the whole thing is completed, leaving me feeling like somewhat of a genius and ready to tackle Jeopardy later that night. It’s fun when that happens, but it’s not much of a challenge.
Then there are the puzzles where I start out feeling smart and then run into a string of clues that stump me. So I try to fill in some of the words around the challenging clues, and once I have enough letters filled in, the answers usually end up becoming pretty clear and I go on to complete the puzzle.
Or get frustrated, fill in the boxes with obscenities that fit and throw the paper in the recycling bin, but I’m trying to prove a point here, so we’ll just keep going.
And of course, there are (quite a few) puzzles that I absolutely can’t figure out. I come at them from every angle—filling in a letter here and there, but never enough to answer the clue.
Those are the times that I’m tempted to flip to the answer in the back of the paper, simply because the option is there and I want to make things a little bit easier.
When I see the answer, sometimes it’s embarrassingly obvious and I realize I was completely overthinking things instead of having the confidence to just fill in the box and move on, not worried if I’d made a mistake. Other times there is no way I would have ever known that particular word, no matter how long I sat there and thought about it.
Seriously. Who really knows the name of Albert Einstein’s first dog?
At any rate, here’s where I get entirely too introspective and compare it to life. Because while there are things I know with great certainty, there are dozens more in which I would constantly flip to the back page if possible—just for a hint—about how to finish my “puzzle.”
Hell, I’m going through one of those, “what’s the pointof this?” phases lately with so many things, that at this point I would even take just a few letters.
But as I was doing a crossword the other day, I rationalized that life is a series of questions—some with answers so glaringly obvious while others are harder to crack.
I can’t flip to the back for a clue.
I have no hints and mild frustration.
But even if I can’t see them, there are answers, and at some point all the blanks will fill in and I’ll see how it all fits together. If it were easy and there was no challenge attached, the rewards might not feel quite as, well, rewarding.
So while I do puzzles in pen, life is a little more pencil, so to speak. Mistakes can be made and erased or scratched out. It’s putting something—anything—down in the blanks without overthinking each choice.
Easier said than done, of course, as I don’t even know where to start. But to bring all this back to the puzzle—I can fill in the blanks as I go.
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