We went about the business of putting a 750-piece puzzle together about a month ago. It was a delight, a challenge and a disappointment.
As a budding cartoonist, I was overjoyed to be working on a Disney theme puzzle. Colors, lines, and shapes all blending into images as piece after piece fell into place. It seemed kind of cool and transported me back decades to simpler times. Two weeks of blissful puzzling passed to get to that “Aha – Ta – Da” moment of placing the last piece ever so firmly in place. It was a moment that would never come.
The quest for the missing bit began in earnest with the peeking under the puzzle, flipping of sofa cushions, rolling of rugs, the moving of furniture and flash-lighting underneath all that was within the puzzle zone. Next the reasoning began, “Well, maybe one of our dogs thought it was tasty?” or “Maybe the vacuum sucked it up?”. And then the pondering set in, “Where could it have gone?”. A few days later and admittedly another round or two of hunting, reasoning and pondering, a piece of the piece was found. It had somehow managed to make its way to the washer, then dryer and finally, with just enough remaining in the lint trap that we could tell it was indeed the missing piece.
But seriously, what do you do when that last piece is gone? Look for it; toss the puzzle out; graphically generate another piece; go buy another exact puzzle for that one piece – which leads to yet other completion dilemmas; put the puzzle back into the box then on the shelf; sell it for a nickel at a yard sale with a post-it note that says one piece is missing; or even write the company and ask for advice??
What if, then, the piece missing is something more urgent and impactful than a piece from a child’s puzzle? A professional disappointment, a separation, a loss of a loved one, a broken heart or some turn of misfortune. Do you run toward an answer, shy away hoping that it will magically be “ok”, or sit with it in thought until you reach an answer that makes sense to you? What steps do you find yourself taking towards finding that peace with the person, situation or choice?
In marinating on the topic of missing pieces that occur in my life, I began to formulate that perhaps, not one way is the perfect way but rather a combination of what works in a particular situation. A discovery of the importance of what was lost and what is to be found in the process of looking. Then to the finding of the importance of things and people before they are gone.
My uncle’s recent passing left me searching for answers in writing poetry but to no avail. No words came to write. No images flowed from my pen. There was only stillness for days. Waiting, hoping, struggling, and wishing for the right words to say to my family about a man who helped create the fabric of my childhood with vibrant colors of laughter, music and stories. But only a restless stillness. Finally, I stopped fighting, stopped looking for answers and then in that moment, an echo of his laughter and shadow of him shaking his head the way he did when he was amused but a silly joke. This was my way of reaching the point of importance. My way to begin to be complete with the realization that life moves forward. We live, love, laugh and help each other through community when pieces are missing.
For you, my friends, I wish you peace in fulfilling on the missing pieces in your life with whichever way makes the most sense for you. And when you find that peace, that importance in your life, share it with those around you who may be looking for the same.
What an inspiring post, Hope! We’ve all felt something missing in our lives at one time or another, and you’ve given us hope for the exploration, not just the finding. We may need to look in unexpected places or maybe even just wait for the missing piece to show up, but this searching, waiting, finding, and learning is part of the process that we call life. Your search for the elusive puzzle piece is an excellent metaphor for it.
Thank you for your kind words and insight into this topic! Much appreciated!
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