“They say Confucius does his crossword with a pen.” — Tori Amos, Happy Phantom
When I do the occasional crossword, I start with the Across clues and see how many I can answer before moving to the Down column. Usually, when I go back, clues that stumped me the first time are more obvious with a few more letters. In some cases, I realize that I had the wrong answer.
My crossword puzzle “strategy” serves as an apt metaphor for an epiphany I had recently.
For as long as I can remember, losing weight was the prerequisite to any other important goal in my life. “Just get your health in order and then you can begin.” I thought this would give me the confidence, discipline and energy to pursue other personal developments and dreams.
In other words, I wouldn’t let myself move to the Down clues until I’d answered all the Across ones first. Even though “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” I earnestly tried so many times. But without any new insights, it was pointless.
This week, I attended a yoga class for the first time, something I’ve wanted to try for ages. Usually, many fears stop me. What will I wear? What will other people in the class think of me? I only have so much time in the day – shouldn’t I be doing something that would help me lose weight faster?
Yet after the class, I realized that I’d finally switched columns. By getting in touch with my body and relaxing my mind, I will gain new letters to help me work through the entire puzzle. The Across clues (or weight loss) won’t be as difficult or feel as impossible to solve. Each column informs the other; they aren’t separate and linear.
When I’ve exhausted all resources and have those last boxes left, I can ask for help. Every crossword puzzle has those last few that you just don’t know, no matter how many clues you have.
Where else am I stopping when I don’t know the Across clues? All of my professional jobs have led to stress and burnout. What can I do to switch columns and help me see this issue in a new light, with higher level insights from myself or others?