Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Tao of the Macaroni & Cheese Puzzle

I received a 108 piece double-sided macaroni puzzle for my birthday this year. It was a great gift because I hadn't done a puzzle in a number of years. This particular puzzle, despite its size and low number of pieces, was extremely difficult. As I emptied the box, spilled the contents on to my artboard, and began to flip and separate the pieces, I began to contemplate life and love through the eyes of a puzzle piece.

In essence life is like a puzzle. It begins in chaos. We are conceived and spend nine months in the puzzle box womb of our mothers. As we are born the contents of the box are unleashed and we spill onto the drawing table of the world. As we grow and learn, the border pieces of our lives begin to take shape. Sometime during adolescence, the border is completed and the framework of what our life is to become begins to take shape. What we are left with is the lifelong, arduous task of arranging the remaining pieces into something beautiful, picturesque or logical. Each day of our lives we are in some way completing this puzzle. Forever trying to find the right piece to fill the parts of our lives that are incomplete. If we are diligent and patient, the puzzle begins make sense. Once it begins to make sense, the process of completion becomes a simple organizational task.

This brings me to love. We as individuals are a lot like puzzle pieces. We all are looking for how we fit into the bigger picture. We are all like a puzzle pieces because while we all have similarities, no two puzzle pieces are exactly the same. Some of us are part of 5000 piece expert puzzles, some are part of a far smaller, easier to complete puzzle.

There are three types of puzzle pieces: corners, edges, and interior pieces. The corner pieces are the rarest of the pieces, these are the visionaries in our society. Next are the edges, they form the frame in which the rest of the pieces will eventually fall. These are the professionals, the artists, the scientists, the architects, the doctors, the teachers, the engineers, the athletes, the musicians, the actors, the entertainers. Lastly are the interior pieces, the most common of the three. These are the workers. Without these pieces there would be no picture. All of these pieces must all work together to complete the grand picture of life.

When looking for love, this is especially relevant. The interior pieces have it the easiest. There are four pieces that one can be perfectly connected... four great loves. The edge pieces have but three great loves, and the corner pieces only two great loves. We stumble throughout our lives trying to find these perfect matches. In the process we try lots of wrong pieces, trying to make this connection. Sometimes, pieces look as if they ALMOST fit. The piece is the same size, color, and shape, but it's just not the right piece. That piece belongs somewhere else in the puzzle. It's another's perfect match and no matter how much we try to force it, the puzzle cannot be completed with those two pieces connected in an imperfect way. We are all looking for our perfect match. If we quit in the middle of the search for the missing piece, we can never hope to see the full picture of life.

So to all of you who read this, go out today and buy a puzzle. Open the box, spill the contents onto your kitchen table, flip then separate the pieces, and go to work on completing the puzzle. While you do so, remember these words. Remember your great loves. Remember when you were a child and didn't have anything to figure out. Remember when you figured out who you were as a person. Remember when you put your own life on its current path.

I see my own life in this process. Over and over again I keep placing piece after piece onto the puzzle and the more I concentrate on slowly putting things together, the more the picture begins to take shape. Hell... if I ever feel like I've got it all figured out or if I get to the point of completion, I'll just break it up into its original form and do it all over again. To me life is about the journey not the destination.

The Skratchman

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