For our winter vacation, I decided to get a puzzle. I thought it would be a great way to engage the family during our downtime after skiing. I picked a spectacular 500-piece puzzle – “The Girl who Reads to Birds” by Natalíe Lété. It was very colorful and very difficult
I have always loved puzzles, but don’t do them often. The first day of vacation, I laid it all on the dining room table in our condo, being careful to keep all the pieces together. And just observed the magnitude of the task at hand. Immediately, my youngest daughter came next to me and started setting aside the pieces by color. My son pitched in, also allocating the pieces and taking on certain areas of the picture. My oldest was not interested, yet. And my husband… Well, let’s say, puzzles are not his forté.
It pretty soon became MY project, which I looked forward to engaging in with my morning coffee and after dinner. I fell in love with the picture and wanted to complete it and bring it to life. It took me a couple of days to begin shaping it into some form. My kids would pass by and stay for a minute and walk away. I was happy! I was able to focus without engaging my busy mind. It allowed me to feel purposeful and at ease. Even though there were some moments of frustration in which I almost gave up, I felt that I needed to continue.
Pretty soon this exercise began to resemble real life:
- I was “reflective”, trying to make sense of where the pieces fit.
- I tried to fit pieces in the wrong places and wondered if maybe the puzzle was defective, because I was certain that it “went there”.
- I looked at it from a “narrow-minded” lens which shifted once I stood up and changed the view, because as my view changed so did “my perspective”.
It became a game for me – the board, the pieces. I found joy in the journey. I did not want it to end, as much as I wanted it to be complete. Pretty soon, my energy was contagious and all of my kids began to spend more than a minute helping me. They took pride in completing their parts and encouraged me to stop obsessing about difficult areas which were not going to make sense until the rest of the work was done. So I moved away for a bit, only to come back and see it all differently, easier.
I spent hours on my vacation being purposeful in a new way, realizing every day how therapeutic this was and how it was exactly what I needed – a meditative practice while still engaging with my family. When I finally finished, I should say WE, because they helped me so much toward the end, I felt so accomplished! And they were all so proud of me and said – “Mom, this should be our tradition every vacation”.
I realized that LIFE IS LIKE A PUZZLE:
- We are the puzzle makers AND doers.
- We have the pieces and the choice to make them fit together.
- We determine what our picture will look like.
So, having a clear vision of what we want, without minding how long it will take, or how many times we will want to give up IS the practice. The consistency of building something with care, patience and perspective IS life.
What are you building? And, are you enjoying the process?