Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Life lessons from...a puzzle?

Take a look at the most difficult puzzle I have ever had a part in solving. This work of art "ate my lunch" for days as I visited a Texas ranch, where it was raining for a few days. No...I didn't do it alone. Another person got the edges done, and all the sky was done as well. In addition, I had a partner in "construction" there at the ranch. In fact, at least a third of the puzzle had already been completed before I sat down, but all of the Las Vegas night life still "ate my lunch." It was as long and tedious a process as I have experienced in a while.

For some reason, I was determined to complete this puzzle before I left the ranch. I had not attempted a puzzle in decades (except for my beloved crosswords), but as I spent time with my friend and foe (the puzzle), I began to see the puzzle as LIFE...not as a puzzle. It was life, dotted with my profession, my attitudes, and my life's structure as related to a "deadline" (Saturday...departure day!). When I first looked at the puzzle, I thought it wouldn't be difficult at all, but when I got into it, I realized I was terribly wrong.

Call me weird, but I had some thoughts on this challenging phenomenon, and I was determined to "get it done." You and I both realize that this did not matter to anyone else in the world but me. However, I was gaining insights about life as I worked the puzzle.

Here are my "Life" revelations:

1)  Friends all around may assist, but there are some things in life that are just plain hard to accomplish...and many do NOT happen quickly.

2)  Some pieces of our life's puzzle make absolutely no sense at all. For the life of us (no pun intended), we can't tell where some of the pieces might fit, until we see the pieces in context. Then we say, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh." Got it! How clever of the Universe...How cool was that!?

3)  Sometimes we cannot see the pieces of our lives with clarity, when they are right in front of us. We vow and declare absence, lack, ill fit, forced fit, and until we readjust many pieces of our lives and change the angle of approach, the entire whole cannot come together into a beautiful work of art.

4)  No matter how hard we try to keep things orderly and in the right "boxes," sometimes a stray piece comes into focus that shouldn't be there at all. We try to keep these types of things to a minimum, and make adjustments. They don't fit.

5)  One may look at the options, saying, "There must be at least 20 missing pieces," but the truth is...the exact "fit" was there all along. We were looking for the wrong thing in the wrong way, and the perfect fit was unrecognizable to us. We find out that very few pieces were missing. We, however, needed a different perspective and a more creative way of dealing with it.

6)  Even with wise counsel, sometimes we must implement "trial and error." It is time consuming and annoying, but the process gives the information and...resolution.

7)  Even when life is filled with pretty colors, lights, flash, gleam, and perceived fun, it may still be terribly difficult. Enough said.

8)  Conquering a puzzle is satisfying when life has presented us with much we could not conquer. I had a really tough year with loss in 2017...my husband, my mother. There wasn't one thing I could do about cancer or advancing age. However, dealing with both of these situations prepared me to label most of my life's problems as "minor glitches." My friends and I are heard stating frequently, "...hey, it's not cancer." Of course, we know fully that one day it might be cancer. All to say, illness gives us perspective as to what is and is not important. As two-time cancer survivor said to me, "Cancer eliminated my tolerance for pettiness." In other words, "focus your complaints on the things that really matter."

I was determined to conquer "the puzzle," and I did so. I completed it before my departure! It was a personal goal. I did not want this puzzle to defeat me.

Life throws out many challenging experiences. Not all of them are good, but...we still have life. We can still participate...until we can't. It is in this period of having choices during daylight hours that we get to make the most out of life. What a gift of time and choice!

The more academic, musical side of puzzle solving will come next...stay tuned. Until then, go find a puzzle...a difficult puzzle, and allow it to teach you about life. You have time...

Las Vegas...

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