I was invited to a friend’s family home a few years ago over the Christmas season. It was a fun-filled day of eating, playing games and great conversation. They also had a large jigsaw puzzle on the table that people would wander over to and contribute to its completion.
It brought back fond memories of going to my Grandma’s house at Christmas, where she always had a puzzle out. I decided after this visit with friends that I would start that tradition again in my own home through the Christmas season, and have ever since.
I bring a new puzzle out when the feeling hits me that “it’s time”. There is no set date, but it usually ends up being mid-November. It’s a nice relaxing, quiet and introspective way to wake up while I have my morning coffee, plotting the day ahead.
It was on one of these mornings it came to me that putting together a jigsaw puzzle is a very good metaphor for life, and parallels many of the behaviours we go through while we live it.
It doesn’t take long to learn that with a puzzle, it’s most important to have the framework in place first for the rest to begin to make sense. This is like childhood, we build the perimeter to help the rest of the pieces fall into place more easily. Once the frame is together, you find other bits and pieces that seem to belong to a particular section and the picture begins to unfold and make sense.
There are times a piece looks so much like it belongs in a spot, that you try anything you can to make it fit, sometimes bending and forcing it in, only to realize, it really didn’t belong there in the first place. Not only that, you miss out on the piece that with no effort, fit perfectly and belonged there while you were concentrating on trying to make something fit that didn’t belong. The piece you tried to make fit belonged somewhere else in the puzzle, where it fit perfectly too, but you didn’t realize until much later.
At times, making sense of the pieces comes fluidly, you are on a roll and without much thought, they all magically come together. Other times, for the life of you, you can’t find anything that fits, no direction for the gaps that need to be filled. That’s when other people come into play. Sometimes they only need one look and go “a-ha”, fitting in pieces you couldn’t see… and opening you up to seeing the next steps. We wouldn’t be anywhere without friends and other loved ones becoming involved in our puzzle and the quest to make sense of it as we continue the journey.
Our lives are built one puzzle piece at a time, each making more sense, or sometimes adding confusion to the whole picture as we go along. Unfortunately, life doesn’t have the completed picture on a box to guide us. We have to trust that it is unfolding as it should and that at the end of the day when our picture is complete, we can look back at our puzzle and say “now I understand… and what a beautiful picture it is”.