Life and the puzzle or The puzzle and life

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I’ve always loved to work puzzles and generally have one spread out on the breakfast table at any time.  If company is coming and I need to use this table I just spread a table cloth over it and tell the company not to spill anything.  Family knows what’s underneath and will usually pull back the cloth and start working on it!

Each time I work on a puzzle I am reminded that working a puzzle is very similar to life and many life situations. Each puzzle is different, just like every human life, and there are different situations with each one.  So today I’m sharing a few observations about the similarities I’ve found.

Every puzzle worker has a little different process, but I always start with the outline as the straight edge pieces are easy to spot (assuming you are working a straight edge puzzle); the subject and color determine how to proceed. The outline reminds me of our early, formative years when we are babies and toddlers.  As we grow and mature the inside pieces are gradually filled in, usually in sections, until the life is complete and we pass on to the next life.

Many times I end up with a missing piece.  With this puzzle I knew fairly early that the piece just wasn’t in the box.  In life there is often a piece missing, too.  It may be a physical or psychological problem that presents itself at birth or later in life.  It may be something like a desired career or happy marriage that just never is “in the box”. However, I’ve found that sometimes the missing piece does appear later or, as in this case, I accepted the fact that it wasn’t there and proceeded anyway. So too in life with the missing piece.

Most puzzles are challenging and can often lead to giving up and crumbling the pieces in the box or at least being tempted to do so.  The challenge can also become a driving force of determination to finish. If a certain section just isn’t coming together then it is time to move to another section; often when you return to the difficult section it will come together much easier.  I’ve also had the experience of casually walking by the table and oh my, there’s the piece I need and then I can proceed! So too in life with the challenges we encounter.

While working on this puzzle I had another piece that I thought was also missing.  I had tried all the pieces that I thought were the right color and shape and nothing worked. But as I kept working I realized that surrounding pieces weren’t coming together either.  The culprit turned out to be a nearby sneaky piece that was a close match, but not the right one.  After I pulled out the offender the section went smoothly.  So too in life when we let an oversight hinder everything.