Printed in the Conscious Creation Journal
December 1999 – January 2000, Issue 9
Piecing Reality Together
by Dawn M. Teel-Friedman
Some months ago I put together a 500-piece puzzle of Van Gogh’s Irises. My inspiration for doing it was that it would look great glued together and framed. I didn’t realize then that I’d be getting much more out of it. It didn’t take me long to become convinced that a mad man had cut the pieces. It took me two evenings to construct the frame because many pieces have almost straight edges. I speculated that the manufacturer simulated Van Gogh’s legendary madness by finding someone equally disturbed to cut the pieces.
As I experienced the usual obsession with making progress, I declared the puzzle the product of a deranged mind and an unsteady cutting hand. This was unproductive-the puzzle was challenging enough without limiting beliefs. Most puzzles have predictable rows and columns, and fairly standard shapes and sizes. The cuts of this puzzle don’t follow any single line for more than 3-5 pieces, and the sizes and shapes of the pieces vary so wildly that you can’t easily tell how many pieces are missing from a gap. The colors are swirled together and lines of paint change directions constantly. It quickly became apparent that if I wanted to finish this puzzle, I would have to discard the usual assumptions about jigsaw puzzles, and, I would have to quit fighting with it.
So, what does this have to do with reality creation? A lot. A puzzle is a good metaphor for creating your life. The events in life happen in every shape, size, color, and texture imaginable, unfolding in endless variety according to one’s beliefs, attitudes, and emotions. Each of us chooses our own unique puzzles. Once I listened to the Van Gogh jigsaw puzzle with an open mind, I learned a great deal. For example, I had a brief period where I decided that puzzles like this one were what you graduated to after tiring of dime store puzzles. Within a week, a friend told me about puzzles where all the pieces are the same solid color. A few days later, a puzzle catalog showed up in the mail. My ego backed out of the picture after reading descriptions of two very similar puzzles packaged together in a single bag.
One insight I gained from this experience is that it’s okay for holes to exist. Just as there’s no moral or biological imperative to immediately fill in a gap between puzzle pieces, it’s okay for there to be areas in life where you don’t know what’s next. I also found it counterproductive to become too focused on finding any one specific piece for any length of time. I made much better progress on the jigsaw puzzle by being flexible and open. Overall, the best approach seems to be a state of mindlessness and intuition. Matching color doesn’t work? Switch to searching for shapes for a while. That doesn’t work? Stop looking with your eyes, and let the pieces call to you. If we can free ourselves from distractions, this approach also works with everyday challenges, both big and small.
I have always known on some level that there is such a thing as too much thinking. This particular puzzle was like a patient tutor to me for several weeks. I had no deadlines for finishing it. A puzzle just is-it doesn’t argue, rationalize, or defend itself. As with anything in creating your life, you can fight it, or you can find its flow and go with it. Regardless of the picture or the number and type of the pieces, jigsaw puzzles end with the placing of the last piece. The lives we create are their own puzzles. Creating our realities gives us abundant probable destinations we can reach by any means we can imagine. Just as we think we have completed something, we’ve only begun again.
©1999, Dawn M. Teel-Friedman. Printed in the December 1999 – January 2000 Issue of the Conscious Creation Journal. http://www.consciouscreation.com (Feel free to duplicate this article for personal use – please include this copyright notice.)