Happy birthday Joe Duffy! Last year, the famed broadcaster contributed a little about how his life during the Covid-19 lockdown and how he found peace during the tumultuous period
Why, during the great Covid-19 pandemic, as every sinew of our lives was savagely disconnected, did people turn to solitary pursuits? For me, as well as dabbling in watercolours, there was walking, reading and indoor swimming – the latter disappeared during the lockdown. I know some people have found their tribe swimming in the icy Irish Sea – but I haven’t lost my mind, yet!
Then from out of the blue I became obsessed with jigsaws. I always saw jigsaws as arcane endeavours, which usually fetch up in the middle of a cruise ship in Agatha Christie murder mysteries.
The lure is very simple – jigsaws are about making order out of chaos. In a world turned upside down and inside out by the coronavirus rollercoaster, we were able to create an interlocked, linked world, where every single thing has its place, and once joined together – often with great difficulty – completes the picture.
Anyone, even if you cannot read or write, can do a jigsaw. They are an exercise for the brain, which leads to a better mood that comes with achievement, and they are inexpensive. As you become engrossed in the jigsaw, you can relax, listen to music, the radio or the quiet humming of precious, calming, meditative silence.
The brain has to be focused; it’s not just your fingers that get a workout doing jigsaws, you become so engrossed you are close to mindfulness! Apparently, jigsaws ignite the left side of our brain through the challenge and the right side by looking for the bigger picture.
Childhood memories are evoked when you open a jigsaw, the avalanche of pieces cascading on to the table is not just a lovely sound – it’s a beautiful tactile sensation. There are no limits to the number of people who can ‘help’ doing a jigsaw. It may take a long time to get it right, but you can’t get it wrong. They are not just a break away from our demanding solitary digital world, jigsaws have only one mission in life – to be complete!
Just like humans.
Joe Duffy is a radio and TV broadcaster, author and columnist. He contributed this piece to Sr Stan’s latest book Finding Peace (Columba Books).