Saturday, February 12, 2011


Puzzled Cow Fenced In, oil, by Robin Weiss
I’ve been working on an unusually perplexing jigsaw puzzle for probably two months now, and, slowly but surely, it seems to be coming together. I say “coming” together because it often seems clear to me that I’m not “putting” it together as much as I’m simply watching and waiting for the pieces to present their proper places to me. It’s a question of being long-suffering, and perhaps even hospitable, as you stay ready to accommodate each piece when it finally introduces itself and determines its place. I’ve realized that putting puzzles together involves less forceful focusing than I had thought, and more of what I might call peaceful passing of time at the table, just staying put so the pieces can find their positions. In my work as a middle school English teacher I also have to “stay put” with a certain kind of serenity as I wait for the parts of a lesson to settle into the general design.  If I rush and push, chances are that portions of my plan for the class will stay apart in some ways, and at the end of class the puzzle of my lesson will still be a puzzle. The secret, I guess, is to work assiduously and wait softly. When the kids come to class, the learning is scattered before them like a complex puzzle, and simple staying power, on their part and mine, will almost inevitably enable it to come together.

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