Every summer, I complete a massive puzzle. I break out the card table, dump the 1,000 pieces on top and begin the process of sorting and connecting. In those moments, I am a puzzle zombie. There’s only a certain amount of time I can dedicate to the hobby, but while I’m there, I’m nowhere else. It’s just one of many reasons why I love summer. I hate the ridiculous heat, but if it were not for summer, I’d be moving in a constant state of speed, rushing, rushing, rushing. Heat slows things down. And so I build it, piece by piece, enjoying the quiet of a hot afternoon or late night or morning.
I’ve come to learn a few things about life through this process. In the beginning, the puzzle is hard. You are not familiar with the big picture yet. Over and over again, you must return your gaze to the puzzle box to understand where the piece you’re holding, belongs. It can feel chaotic. Frustrating. So many pieces that fool you.
It’s easy to walk away after a few minutes of not finding one match. You know when you’ve had too much. So you take a break. Breaks are necessary. All muscles need rest and our brains are no exception. We are no good when we overdo it. You have to know when to walk away only so you can come back, ready to solve that puzzle. Over time, the puzzle begins to take shape.
You must open your mind and see that each piece is unique and the one you are holding may not necessarily fit another in the way you expect. Sometimes the piece connects upside down or sideways. Or it’s yellow and it still connects to red. Surprise! You cannot believe you know better or more than the puzzle. You must follow its lead and open your mind to all of the possibilities of connections. Kind of like life. That magical moment always comes. Suddenly the pieces fit, one by one. You’re caught off guard because you didn’t see that piece fitting the other like the way it did. Over and over again, this happens.
You have to keep trying new ways of seeing and doing things. The moment you stop believing there is nothing more to learn is the moment you stop growing. There are times when you have to step back and breathe in another avenue of happiness, but in the end, it comes down to keeping an open mind.
I think that’s where true happiness lies. We cannot lasso and control life. It flows as long as we understand we are shaped by our ability to accept it isn’t supposed to go exactly as we planned. As we do that, the puzzle begins to take shape. The pieces become more and more familiar until you get to the point where you pick up a random piece and, without thinking too much about it, your hand naturally moved toward the exact spot it belongs. It’s as if all of that dedication has begun to pay off.
And that’s because you’ve earned it. Your mind stopped trying to overthink, to make it work. It’s a beautiful process. And a good life lesson. Slow down, recognize that there’s more than one way to see and do things and allow joy to spill into your space.
Forest Gump was right, but life isn’t just a box of chocolates, it’s a puzzle, too. 🙂