Another piece of the puzzle, that doesn’t fit
You throw your arms up, you’re so damn sick of it
What are you working for,
What are you searching for?
– Sick Puppies, “What Are You Looking For”
Sometimes I think that life is like a million-piece puzzle that you spread out over the landscape of your self, trying to figure out where everything fits to form your complete picture.
Sometimes, everything feels perfectly crafted to naturally fall into place, and you’re eager to move forward, rushing through to complete the puzzle so that you can see what the big picture is all about. Other times, you’re left with scattered pieces that seem to have no connection, no link, and you’re frustrated, confused, and feel a lot like giving the whole thing the finger.
I’ve been on both ends.
I’m on the latter end at this moment.
Truth be told, I’ve always been torn about puzzles. I love the idea of watching a blank canvas evolve into something beautiful, piece by piece. And I love the satisfaction of finally completing something that may have once seemed daunting, impossible. However, before it’s all said and done, there’s those million unmatched pieces that often leave you frustrated, cursing, with only the compulsion to finish it and the anticipation of the beauty of the picture leading you on.
Puzzles are a great metaphor for this, for life. You start with the tried-and-true method of sorting out the pieces, finding the ones with the edges to create the border: the beginning, an idea, a dream. Then you work off of that to fill in the rest, linking a piece at a time until the picture is complete and the goal is reached.
Sometimes, you’re on a roll, each piece naturally fitting into the next, forming a glimpse of the bigger picture. You feel optimistic, empowered; you see where it’s all heading and you know how to get there. However, sometimes you suddenly realize that the piece you’re holding isn’t the one you were expecting — it doesn’t fit and you freeze. Suddenly, you’re not sure which piece is right or where to go next.
For the past three months, I’ve been creatively inspired, writing feverishly, working on new stories, blog posts, freelance opportunities; I’ve created a new site, helped to form a writing group in my community. Each piece was fitting in perfectly, one after another. I could see the picture beginning to form in front of me, bit by bit.
Then I froze.
With the launch of the new site, the first meeting of the writing group, and a sudden, unexpected lull in my writing, suddenly I’ve begun to question what it is I’m working towards and if I have any clue what my picture will look like after all. The piece I’m holding no longer seems to match what I’ve laid out so far, and I’m left wondering “what now?” Where does this piece go?
Where do I go?
The thing about puzzles, and what I try to remind myself, is that in order to complete the picture, you have to keep trying. Each piece is there, tailored just for you — every person, job, idea, and experience waiting to connect to form that greater whole. Sometimes it’s luck that gets you going. Sometimes it’s pure trial and error. But always, always, it’s patience, persistence, and perspective that helps you fill in the empty space and find that missing piece.