close up of bright purple violets

So in spite of everything, violets are blooming in the forest around my house. One day there were none, the next day, they’re everywhere.

I’ve been chatting about this with Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book BIG MAGIC, Liz cites a mathematician whose father told him to publish his ideas quickly, because “When the time is right for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

In science this is called “multiple discovery.” It happens a lot: calculus, oxygen, and evolution were discovered at the same time by different scientists.

Well, last week, right here, I tripped over something similar. I mentioned that right before the pandemic, I felt compelled to buy lots of jigsaw puzzles. I mean LOTS. During the shutdown, when puzzles sold out everywhere, I had some to give our desperately bored neighbors.

After that post, over a dozen of you told me that YOU TOO had felt compelled to stock up on supplies BEFORE the pandemic. About 10% SPECIFICALLY ORDERED JIGSAW PUZZLES.

Is it just me, or is it weird that several unrelated people went into a puzzle-buying frenzy for no apparent reason?

Like multiple discovery, this tickled my spider-senses. It made me suspect we’re all connected, drops in one universal sea of consciousness that lifts all boats—or puzzles—with its tides.

Some of you saw this as a metaphor. What is the global situation right now but a massive puzzle? And what are we but a species that loves to puzzle things out?

What if we’ve all decided, at some unfathomable level, to solve the biggest puzzle ever? To stop in our tracks, look at the world we’ve created, and decide how to fix what wasn’t working?

When I’m tired of reading bad news about an unknowable future, this thought comforts me. Humans love puzzles. We go LOOKING for puzzles. And when a huge puzzle faces us all, we set to work solving it.

It may not be today, but watch: At some point, ideas for how to rearrange this chaos into a better world will start emerging. One day they won’t be there, and the next they’ll be everywhere. Like violets in the spring.