My middle son, Christopher, and I are in a crossword puzzle season. It began when my family traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to attend the graduation of my oldest son, Andrew, from Yale.
At the hotel stop somewhere in Pennsylvania, we picked up a USA TODAY and spent part of the car ride working on the daily crossword puzzle. It was fun and a challenge. We did not complete it before we arrived in New Haven, so took it into the apartment for Andrew and his wife, Lindsey, to help us finish.
Since then, we have been daily printing out the USA TODAY crossword puzzle. Occasionally in the morning I will be sipping my coffee and checking through my work emails, when I am momentarily startled by noises in the patio room, off of the kitchen. I quickly realize that it is the printer and Christopher has, from somewhere in the house, been at a computer, gone to the website and hit “print” to deliver the daily crossword puzzle. He quickly appears after that to lift it off of the floor, where it has fallen from the printer, and find the blue mechanical pencil we now keep on the kitchen island.
Christopher works on it for a bit and then I meander closer to take a look over his shoulder. He/we have become quite deft at completing the puzzle in a very efficient manner, sometimes too efficient. It has been fun to discover new words and also get amusingly frustrated at the simple answer we cannot at first produce.
Occasionally when we are stuck on a couple of clues, leaving it lie on the island and walking away to do a task for a little while, produces a freshness when we return.
Often, the teamwork approach finishes the puzzle. It has become a fun routine. Sometimes, my youngest son, Noah, will wander past it on the island throughout the day and fill in a few words.
That little exercise is so true of life. If I zero in on an issue for too long or too pertinaciously, my vision is skewed. I can see nothing else but the problem and it appears to grow beyond its actual size.
When I have the strength and discipline to avert my unrelenting gaze and switch my focus to another person or another situation or simply practice gratitude, the issue weakens and loses it power over me.
The problem will come back, or another one dressed similarly. Perhaps with a bit of experience, fresher eyes, and even a buddy to come alongside, I can finish the puzzle and even discover a new thing or two along the way.