Jigsaw pieces in a box
Creative Surprises

By way of efficiency comes decline

The world demands we increase our efficiency, and then complains when our brains start to sag.

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Visual acuity is a term for clarity of vision. For clarity, we need healthy eyes, but we also need a suitably sensitive and interpretative faculty in our brain.

So what’s that got to do with jigsaws?

When we hand a child their first jigsaw, we hope to teach them some problem solving techniques. We suggest they sort the pieces by particular categories. We suggest they start by building the frame. And we watch while their skills develop.

As we get old, the aim is to exercise our faculties as a means of staving off impending decline. Sometimes, the habits we develop as children are best set to one side.

If I efficiently sort the puzzle pieces, I’m wasting an opportunity to exercise those parts of my eyes and brain that are necessary for clarity of sight. There’s no impending deadline; no need to be efficient. In fact, the longer one puzzle lasts the cheaper the whole hobby becomes.

I’ve started a new game. The pieces are poured from their plastic home into the box. I visually “pour” over them, picking out each edge piece. I then “paw” at them, churning the surface, bringing unseen pieces to the top … and picking out each edge piece I see.

How many other supposed efficiencies are contributing to our mental decline?

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