Morning email brought me the headline used for this post and I instantly reached toward that “one realization,” that answer that would make me feel connected, as if I had found my one place in the world, as if I had been gathered into the warm fold of my tribe, as if I mattered in the grand scheme of things. I rushed to the article that held the golden answer, only to find less than a Eureka! moment. The story didn’t fit, wasn’t mine. However, the metaphor sent my mind chasing down a rabbit hole.
Jigsaw puzzle. What if we’re all separate pieces in the grand jigsaw puzzle of life, trying to find our place? We interlock with some pieces but not others. We are part of patterns within patterns, and there’s always one piece that remains off to the side until it fills that last blank. Not last by design or by qualification, but simply by happenstance.
A friend, who also loves jigsaw puzzles, received one for Christmas, a beautiful 1,000-piece abstract of Frank Lloyd Wright art. It started out as gloriously difficult with colorful, repeating patterns resisting organization of any logical approach. We worked that puzzle off and on and, as far as I know, it still sits on the table with hundreds of orphan pieces waiting to be placed.
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Obviously, many of us (all of us?) feel like orphan pieces, so what’s the one realization that will change everything and make us feel part of the whole? Perhaps it’s an obvious cop-out but we’re here, we’re alive. We are, by definition, part of the whole of life.
We’re not manufactured pieces in a pre-designed puzzle. We’re warty, misshapen lumps of humanity sniffing our way home, bumping into barriers, bouncing off side rails, clinging to warm spots of sunshine, before being tossed back into the shadows. Our knees get skinned and, if we’re lucky, a kind soul applies a soothing salve and a band-aid. If we’re not so lucky, we still go on, like Diogenes forever carrying his lamp, looking for an honest soul, we keep on bumping along, looking for love and connection…until we die.
That may sound fatalistic, but life for all humans is fatal. What could bring us the joy we’re seeking is truly understanding that we’re all in this together. Every human person*, regardless of age, gender, color, or capability is on the same path, trying to find our place, looking for warmth and love. The only real thing we have to offer each other is kindness and the respect due each remarkable piece of this ever-changing puzzle we call life. Each of us is a unique piece, without us, regardless of how long or short our lives, the puzzle would be incomplete, different. There are no bits and pieces; we are all one.
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*Since, at the present moment, only humans read, this article is written as if only they(we) were part of this great puzzle when, obviously, every sentient being is also a piece and deserves the respect of being included. (Yes, and rocks, too.)
BTW, if you want the story that actually went with the headline, click here.