I love jigsaw puzzles—1000 piece, 1500 piece—bring it on! My fascination with them is so pronounced that it becomes a winter obsession once a box is dumped out onto the table awaiting sorting by colors, textures, and border pieces. I spend hours in this focused endeavor to make sense of the chaotic randomness scattered within a 3ft x 3ft table surface, and have personally found that if you work hard enough and notice the subtle distinctions in each piece, you find the clues to how they all fit together as one large picture shown on the box cover. That completed puzzle picture is often crucial to making it through the tougher areas.
Too bad our lives didn’t come with a completed puzzle picture when they dumped us out on the table here. It would have been so much easier to put it all together as to why we are here and how we look doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
This obsession I have with deciphering patterns and puzzles is what makes me so determined to make sense not only of my own life, but of “life” in general. I’ve written books on finding your true-self (the HONORING THE HERMIT series)—your true calling in life; and I still teach classes to help others sort their own puzzles pieces into coherent patterns for inner recognition.
Like the many puzzle box pictures on the store shelf, for all our seeming uniqueness, we have just as many similarities in sizes, shapes, edges, grooved or protruding knobs, indentations—all the aspects of a puzzle piece that makes it fit together with another piece in perfect union and harmony to the whole picture.
There are subtle interlocking patterns to a puzzle—like the coy but distinct signature of the puzzle designer; and if you can recognize those hidden design keys, you have a much better shot at understanding the designer’s intention. They often set unwritten rules for each puzzle shape and matching fit that apply to the majority of the puzzle, except for one far side where they break their own rules and the normal patterns of how pieces fit together are just the opposite on that particular side. Very clever.
Our lives are a bit like those cleverly-nuanced, interlocking patterns. Just when you think you’ve figured out the unwritten rules of life, you get to the far side of the frame only to see it all flipped so that what once made sense in your life, no longer does. It’s that “gotcha” factor that puzzle designers love to pull.
Just the other day, I was trying to remember how many times I’ve thought that I had life all figured out, only to be shown how little I really knew on the subject. It was depressing as the “wrong again” count mounted and my mind began to object to recalling how many times my falsely-inflated ego had been steamrolled into submission. But that doesn’t mean that I ever give up on a puzzle—even the puzzle of our existence. It just means that sometimes you have to take a break from trying so hard to see the correlations and connections, and simply walk away for a time to freshen your perspective and attention.
So if you’re facing a tough life puzzle at present, and you can’t seem to make any sense of it, maybe you should take a break from trying so hard to make it fit. Rest your bleary eyes, clear your scrambled thoughts, and shift your focus to something else for awhile. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from a situation long enough to gain a fresh attitude and sharpen our vision to better understand the Puzzle Designer’s intentions.
But never give up on a puzzle, because it’s often just a matter of time, requiring a subtle shift in perspective, to help you see the hidden key that makes all the pieces simply fall into place.