I used to love doing puzzles when I was a kid. I found the idea of a picture, scattered into a million pieces, into seemingly indiscernible parts, absolutely fascinating. I found it interesting how two pieces that matched in color and relative size, even containing complementary parts, could appear to fit together, but when actually put into place, did not. In fact, that part always seemed to be the most puzzling to me. When I discovered the pieces didn’t match, when I found out that I was going to have to try and find another piece, I automatically assumed there were no others like it, that someone had stolen the piece I was looking for to fit with my current one, that the missing piece was lost, and that because of it, my masterpiece would never truly be complete.
So I’d place it to the side, I’d give up, and I’d try something else for a little while. I’d try to assemble other pieces of the puzzle. And eventually, in the thick of searching for another match to another section of the puzzle, I’d jump at the mere thought I had found the piece from before. My heart would beat with adrenaline, and my eyes would light up thinking that I had completed what I initially set out to to do–without actually trying to do it anymore.
I’m feeling a bit like that mismatched puzzle piece right now in relation to my current surroundings, similar in color, shape, and size–even with many complementary parts. After all, my entire history is here in Chicago, and until recently, I saw my future here. I find that I am constantly trying to find other solutions–other puzzle pieces–that complement my colors, my relative size, and my shape, but I seem to continue coming up short.
I see parts of my puzzle assembled–parts of my puzzle that are complete, whole, and in order. They make sense to me, and there is no need to change them. I can see how they will eventually fit into the bigger picture that is my masterpiece, but I find myself still longing to fit together the pieces that I can’t quite match. I can’t help but think I should go to another part of my puzzle, another area that is unrelated and seemingly untouched by this section, that will end up developing through a quest for something different–perhaps an even more beautiful part of my puzzle.
What was always funny about the puzzle was the sense of satisfaction when it had been completed. I remember suddenly noticing that my shoulders ached, my eyes were tired, and that my brain swelled with mental exhaustion. But these aches and pains were different because they were alleviated by my job-well-done, and they were married with the opportunity to sit back and examine the beautiful picture I had created, one free of frustration and boundaries, one where the lines that I worked so hard to fit together faded into the background.
I always loved finishing puzzles, but I suppose as soon as I finished one, the real fun was over. The moment of satisfaction was grand, but fleeting–the moments of reflection, short, and a precursor to blissful slumber.