When all else fails #SOL23 3/31

When life swirls around me and what I thought I knew doesn’t make sense any longer, when my plans get tossed into the air or my tears drip down, when there’s nothing left to grasp on to, I often turn to sudoku.

Sudoku makes sense. 9 times 9 squares. 9 numbers, 9 times. Sudoku promises that everything has a place, that if I pay attention, the pattern will unfold.

For an easy sudoku, I push myself to solve the puzzle in numerical order – so I enter all the 9s last – or 9 patch square by 9 patch square, holding one corner back until the end. I like to see how much I can solve before I need to start filling things in. Some days it’s more than others.

While an easy sudoku has it’s place, my real sanctuary is the hard ones. I might glance through one of these grids quickly at first, but inevitably I settle into the rhythm of the pattern – if this can only go here then that can’t go there. If these numbers appear three times in this row then that square must be… yes! Got one. My brain calms as I fill tiny squares with tiny indicators of possible solutions. Entering one thing means carefully tidying up all the possibilities that no longer exist. Every number has an inevitable space.

In sudoku, attention to detail means that everything ends up where it belongs because each number has its own inarguably right place. 20ish minutes after I start, I place the last number – hopefully a nine – in the 81st square and no matter what else is happening, I am able to breathe a little more easily.

When all else fails, sudoku can be solved.

9 thoughts on “When all else fails #SOL23 3/31

  1. Whew, yes! Give me the certainty of a puzzle, too! During the pandemic I turned to jigsaw puzzles as a mental breather. I appreciate your description of method and what it gives you: “In sudoku, attention to detail means that everything ends up where it belongs because each number has its own inarguably right place.” Oh, for things to have their inaugurably right place and for us to recognize the pattern that puts them there! Thanks to your post, I’m also breathing a little easier.

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  2. Loved this. It’s so important to have a “go-to” activity to calm down and ease stress. I’m not a numbers girl, but my husband is a master at suduko. His ability to figure out these puzzles astonished me.

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  3. Just reading about YOUR “calming treat” made me feel calm too. I tend toward jigsaws and jumping jacks, and I don’t understand how I haven’t discovered Sudoku. I am a lover of all things ‘9’ and all things puzzly and challenging, so I am drawn to trying one. I love the rhythm and alliteration of these lines: “Sudoku makes sense. 9 times 9 squares. 9 numbers, 9 times. Sudoku promises that everything has a place, that if I pay attention, the pattern will unfold.” And, I love the metaphor too. I certainly hope all is well.

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  4. I ❤ your first sentence, how its structure steadily builds and builds, right up to what lands as… a surprise!

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  5. I don’t do Soduku so I’ve never thought about them as a stress reliever. I love this story! I am amazed you can solve any of it in your head before writing it down. 🙂 I cannot do that, which is maybe why they don’t appeal to me – too much erasing.

    Liked by 1 person

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