Puzzling Out Life, One Piece at a Time

puzzle pieces - Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

When tackling a 500 word puzzle, it’s easy to be frightened of beginning a new color scheme in the corner. Much more easier to stick to the familiar, what you’ve already tackled so far fairly successfully. So you leave that corner alone. Yet the secret, I’ve found, is to begin anyway. To hold up puzzle pieces of varying hues, comparing and contrasting, trying different pieces anyway. Even if none are anywhere close to a fit, nowhere near the color you had gauged.

For Christmas, a relative sent us a 500-piece puzzle of a painted succulent garden in hues of mint green to ice blue and bright green edged with red.  I’ve been bent over our coffee table for several days, barely able to move as I go through each piece, attempting to put the thing together. Everything else in life is currently on hold. My son and husband helped begin with the edge pieces.

I finally got a system down. The dark greens in one corner pretty much done. Yet the ice-blue and mint-green section has felt daunting. But as mentioned above, I decided to go for it. Even though some of the puzzle piece colors I compared to the ones in the corner were not even close to the shade I had gauged, I realized it was better to know what comes close, and what doesn’t. By holding one color next to the other, I can make better decisions on what to do next.

Of course, it struck me that this was a metaphor for my life. Oftentimes I’m paralyzed with irrational fear, unable to move. I freeze and choke. Whether it’s writing or work, or sometimes even the simplest task of returning messages to another person. I realize that these tiny steps that move you forward are what help you figure out what to do next. Just going for it anyway when you don’t feel like it, when you feel scared, is the most important thing. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not even close to correct, or anywhere perfect. It’s the simple act of just trying that’s important.

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