Sunday, February 5, 2012

The puzzle parable

A month or two ago I came across a puzzle parable that I liked but neglected to save. It went something like this:

“When looking at all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle the first time puzzler may find the task of trying to assemble the pieces "puzzling". There may be a thousand pieces; and they'll go together only one way. Soon a simple fact makes itself clear: the four right angle pieces are outside corners. From there one deduces that the straight sided pieces are the outside edges.

“Once you’ve assembled the outside edges you start working on the inside. This is a lot harder. There are countless lines, shades and swirls that could go anywhere. You then realize the colors of the individual pieces are significant: blues mean the sky, or maybe the sea. The greens are grass or trees. There are multi-hued pieces too; perhaps flowers, or people, or both. You place them where you think they belong. With a little persistence a picture slowly begins to emerge. Eventually you go "Ahhhh...!" Then all that remains to be done is to place the dwindling number of pieces in their proper places.

“When you’ve assembled all the pieces you see the picture - and you realize that none of it was an accident – the box, the puzzle, the picture... or your solution.”

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