Saturday, January 26, 2013

When Words Don’t Fit

My mother likes to talk when doing a jigsaw puzzle. “I need a piece that is this certain shade of pink on the left with just a little of this blue on the bottom corner and it needs to have two ‘innies’ and one ‘outie,’” she’ll say.

And suddenly I won't be able to think about the puzzle because of the words in the air.

And I'm complaining about doing puzzles with MY mom?
© Assignments | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos
On the other hand, sometimes, usually when I’ve walked away from the puzzle for a while and come back, I will pick up a piece without thinking about it and snap it into place in a part of the puzzle that I hadn’t even been looking at.

How does that work?

I think it’s a different kind of intelligence we all have, one that doesn’t use words. Because it doesn’t talk to us in our heads, we’re most often not aware that it’s there.  It almost feels like there is a whole other person, a mute person, inside our heads with us.

Have you ever been driving and suddenly realize that you’ve been lost in thought, but you’ve been driving just fine? The mute person’s doing it.

We may all have a nonverbal as well as a verbal intelligence in our heads, but sometimes I try to use the wrong one. Like my mom with a jigsaw puzzle, I try to use verbal thinking when nonverbal would be better. My mom tells me that, when I was little, I couldn’t jump. I’d stand there and think really hard about it, but my feet wouldn’t leave the ground.

You know what? I think that mute part is like a quiet person at a party. Instead of overwhelming her with chatter, I'll try follow her lead sometimes. 


  1. Someone that needs quiet to do a jigsaw puzzle is a bit puzzling.