Whenever I feel the need to take a breather between activities or a respite from the Coronavirus news, I plop down in my recliner and reach for a Sudoku puzzle. I am not a math person by any means, but doing Sudoku soothes me and probably lowers my blood pressure as well. A Sudoku puzzle consists of nine squares set in one large square. Eighty-one possibilities, though some numbers are filled in throughout the puzzle as clues. Your job is to fill in the blank spaces to that every small square, every horizontal and every vertical line includes the numbers 1 to 9. Only one answer is possible for any one spot.
I can't explain why this activity is both a challenge as well as a calming experience, only that it is so. In fact, in the many years that I've been doing Sudoku, I have often wondered if it's an addiction. Sometimes I even choose it over reading, my favorite activity. After writing fiction, of course. Somehow, putting the right number in its allotted spot gives me the sense there's order in the world.
As a multi-tasker, I often do Sukoku while watching television or talking on the phone.
I love the ripple effect of filling in one square, which often leads to finding other numbers for other squares. Kind of like when you solve a plotting problem that enables you to move on with the book you're writing.
Sometimes I wish life fell into place in an orderly manner like a Sudoku puzzle. Other times, when I've screwed up a puzzle or can't finish it, I wonder why I've been wasting my time on filling in a series of numbers when I could have been reading or even — writing. But then I remind myself that I can't be productive every waking minute of the day. And admit the benefits I get from doing Sudoku are worth the time and effort as I reach for another puzzle.
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