Going In Beautifully Blind

In a good week, one evening I make very chocolate hot chocolate and slump gladly into my reading chair to do crosswords.

I work from a book of New York Times’ crosswords that are categorized into Easy, Medium, Hard with the level denoted in the upper corner of the page.

Usually, I can skate through the “Two-color cookie” (oreo) and “Imitate” (ape) clues of Easys.

Mediums, though.

Just knowing it’s a Thursday crossword (NYT puzzles start the week easy and get harder with each day) can mangle my confidence.

One night in my reading chair, I was thinking that this book, which I’d been using for months, had an awful lot of Easy crosswords. I looked to the upper corner of the page to see how many more Easy puzzles there were and realized I was in Mediums and had been for some time. I hadn’t thought these crosswords were any harder, but I hadn’t known they were supposed to be.

Sometimes, when we don’t know something should be difficult for us, we go in beautifully blind and find out what it actually is for us.

Knowing I was in the Mediums, I scanned the clues, assuming I wouldn’t get most of them. Then, I checked myself. You were doing just fine before you knew the difficulty level. Now you know. And you have proof that level doesn’t mean much. Rather than give that level all kinds of meaning, do the puzzle and find the meaning in doing it.

I slowed down, started reading, not scanning the clues, began to get answers. Not all of them, but some of them.

It was bumpy going. Believing not what we’re told to be true but what we find to be true often is.

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Caitie Whelan