What have I been up to? It's a Puzzler...

I haven't blogged in a very long time. Perhaps I'll share what I've been up to, someday soon. For today, I'd like to talk about a wooden puzzle that came into my life.

By came into my life, I mean I bought it during a recent trip to Marshalls. I am not typically a puzzle person, but I have learned to listen when "things" call to me, which this puzzle most certainly did. I brought it home and left it on the kitchen table, waiting for it to declare its purpose in my life.

Over the next few weeks, my husband (who is adept with puzzles) took it apart and put it back together several times. One day, I entered the kitchen and found it on the table in pieces. Now, it was talking to me!

This puzzle and I spent a lot of time together that afternoon and in the days since. It told me a story, that I'd like to share with you. These pieces of wood spoke to me about how we all have ongoing puzzles to solve in our lives. Sometimes they are the smaller, less weighty puzzling matters and other times they are our big-picture-personal-conundrums we are striving to solve.

As I sat, looking at the six identical puzzles pieces, I began to understand how this puzzle related to my life. At various stages in my life, I have been given lots of pieces – to something – but not known where to start. I didn't have the blueprint. Not being informed of the intended outcome, I have simply had all these pieces, that all look the same, and no real inkling of how to move forward, or what goes where.

Inevitably, I began to pick up the various pieces, playing with different fittings. I'd get a few ideas, inspirations or directions that seemed promising, but they didn't get me anywhere really. Maybe I even said, "I've never been any good at puzzles" and put it down, walking away for awhile (sometimes a long while).

Then, one day – Halleleuja! – someone or something comes along in life and tells me what the finished puzzle is supposed to be. "It's a star" they say. And I'm off, with powerful information in hand, efforts renewed and reinspired. Alas – nothing comes together in any major-step-forward kind of way.

Then someone else along my path shows me their finished puzzle. And I am equal parts elated and annoyed, thinking to myself: 

"Screw you and your perfectly put together *#@&ing puzzle!"


But, at least I know what it looks like complete and, more important, I believe that it IS possible. I throw myself into focus, refueled, even if it is from less than honorable or desirable feelings – fuel is fuel, no?

Finally (trumpets sound) I figure it out... all but the last piece (trumpets fizzle). It all fits together so tightly that there is no available space for the final piece. No matter that I can see exactly where it needs to go... no matter that I've solved it mostly and have figured out what it's meant to be... because just as fuel is fuel, an unfinished puzzle is an unfinished puzzle.

And so I begin to play with expansion, knowing I must release my grip on the completed pieces, to allow room for the last piece, thus the whole. For a long time, this unfolds in a messy and chaotic manner and the result is a complete falling apart of EVERYTHING, over and over. But, I have knowledge about where I've been and I can return to this "last piece" place quicker and quicker each time.

Finally with practice, experimentation and tuning into my own rhythms, I find a way to not force, but allow. I find a way to expand while attending to ALL the pieces and – CLICK – in goes the final piece. The puzzle is manifest in its intended form. I am triumphant! (The trumpeteers are gone now. It was a LONG puzzle and the overtime was getting expensive. You'll have to imagine them here.)

For me, this final piece stage took the longest, and I realize that makes perfect sense, as that is the stage I'm currently on, in the personal conundrum puzzle I'm working through in life. I find myself very grateful for the frustration and insights this wooden puzzle has brought into my awareness. I'm tickled and almost giddy to know that anything in life can bring a new story.

Can you recognize which stage in the Puzzle Story you might be in? Or maybe some other seemingly inanimate object is speaking to you right now.

Are you listening?