Monday, November 13, 2006

Lessons from Sudoku

Now, I do not work Sudoku puzzles as a hobby. I do not need one more thing to take up my time any more than I need (as my parents used to say) a hole in my head. But I will work a puzzle if I have some time, like I did on the airplane coming back from Sacramento.

Because I do not work the puzzles regularly, even the easiest puzzles are hard for me. I generally figure out all the possibilities for a collection of squares, and then use logic to deduce the actual values. Yesterday, I did this for a while when it occurred to me that I might instead figure out what I needed in a particular row, column, or square, and from there figure out where each of those needs could be placed.

The result was remarkable. I finished the puzzle I was working on in a matter of minutes (after spending 30-40 up to that point) and moved through the next puzzle (which was supposed to be harder) almost effortlessly. Trust me when I tell you that I have never worked a puzzle so quickly.

And I got to thinking. I do this in my own life a lot. I spend a lot of energy investigating all the options, rather than just figuring out what I need and how best to achieve those things. There are, most of the time, just too many possibilities, but very few needs. Jesus said something like that to Martha.

I haven't worked any more Sudokus (I'm back to my real life now), so the approach may not always work. Just like it won't always work in my life. But it can work, and that's enough for right now.

No comments: