Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Tis a Puzzlement

For my recent birthday, my daughter gave me a 1,000 piece puzzle featuring a photo of thousands of colorful jelly beans. She knows I love puzzles and I love jelly beans and she managed to combine them both in one brilliant stroke, so I spent most of this past week engaging in an activity that I love but haven't done in many, many years. If you have ever done a jigsaw puzzle, you know how challenging they can be. Imagine trying to sort out one thousand multi-colored jelly beans pieces. This was a daunting task, one that required lots of patience, observation and concentration to complete.

Funny thing about puzzles. If you are really determined to assemble one, you have to give yourself over to it, stay focused, and follow a deliberate series of steps in order to make sense of the jumble of pieces. First you turn all the pieces face up so you can see them all, then you separate the edge pieces because they are (usually) the most recognizable and you assemble the outside border. Then the work really begins. If you're smart, you start categorizing the pieces by color and slowly begin piecing the puzzle together, all the while referring to the picture on the box, until eventually your puzzle is complete.

If you're like most people, you admire your puzzle for a while then disassemble it and put it back in the box until the next time you want to challenge yourself. At least that's what I used to do. But this time my process was a little different. For starters, I did most of my puzzling at night, after the family was asleep, and would work well into the wee hours in near total silence. I find that when I work quietly in a very focused manner, my mind opens up to remarkable insights. As I assembled the puzzle, it suddenly dawned on me that puzzles are a very accurate metaphor for life. Life, like a jigsaw puzzle, can sometimes seem like a disjointed jumble of events that seem to make no sense. If you try to sort it out without a plan, you'll get nowhere fast. Sometimes all it takes is stepping back, looking at all the pieces laid before you and slowly putting it all together.

As I neared completion of the puzzle, I noticed that the pieces began to fall into place faster and faster. At times, as if by magic, I would look at an empty place in the puzzle, then look at the loose pieces and my hand would immediately fall on the piece needed to fill the space. I also noticed that sometimes the piece that fit into a particular place was not at all the one I expected it to be. Life is like that, too. When things start falling into place, everything starts coming together faster and faster, and sometimes the thing you need to accomplish your goal comes from the unlikeliest of places.

There's one more thing I learned...that when you look at something from a distance you can't appreciate the beauty of the details but if you focus only on the details, you lose the the beauty of the whole. Focusing in on the details of those little beans...the colors, the speckles, the highlights...were critical in my being able to complete the puzzle. Without those details, the grand picture would not have been nearly as rich and beautiful. They go hand in hand, the grand and the minute, and create balance.

The more energy you put into accomplishing your goal, the more energy you draw to yourself and things will almost magically present themselves before you. All you have to do is stay focused on the image you are trying to complete and work towards it one little piece at a time. Life, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, doesn't come in a box with a picture on it. You have to create that picture yourself and keep your eyes on the prize.

I'm not going to disassemble this puzzle. I'm going to glue it down and place it where I can see it often. I want to remember the lessons I learned assembling it. And I'll be eating jelly beans when I do.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and All Ways,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A New Blog

As if I haven't got enough things to do, I've created a new blog. This one is dedicated to the pleasure and inspiration I get from my gardening. When my flowers start blooming and I'm eyebrow deep in loam and earthworms, that is where I'll be posting my pictures and my musings. I hope you will join me there. It is called Nature's Conversations and you can access it by using the link in the right column under More About Me. Thanks for your support.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva