When Things Don’t Add Up…

My husband and I are hooked on jigsaw puzzles, especially Eric Dowdle‘s Dowdle Folk Art Puzzles (https://dowdlefolkart.com/). They’re intricate and push our brains past their existing capacities to think differently.

But some of them have unanticipated problems. Our current one, Edmonton, AB, is one like this.

We usually start with the frame and then fill in the separate sections. And that’s what happened with this one, initially, until… I found that we had the framing pieces in the wrong spots. Crap! What happens next is we need to disassemble the part that is “wrong” and hold it off to one side until we can confidently find the pieces in between that fit together better. We need to go one piece at a time to line things up, which is particularly maddening. Just as you think you’re cruising along, getting the puzzle done in record time, this snafu hits, slowing us down to a snail’s pace instead.

But isn’t that life as well? Just as you think you’ve figured out your next plan of action in your business or in life, something rears its ugly head to make you put what you thought you knew, aside completely. For me, that has happened all too often lately. And I confess, I don’t like it one bit!

I want the puzzles of life to be easy, to be at a steady clip so that I can breeze through them. But instead, the hardest puzzles of life are the ones that don’t make sense, the ones that keep us up at night, and the ones that play with our sense of “fairness.” And yet – these are the very puzzles that we need the most and have the most growing-up power associated with them. They burgeon our abilities to be human, to give of ourselves to someone who is hurting, or to get rid of our adolescent thinking that “life has to be fair.”

No, life is never fair. It is a constant figuring out, pulling things apart, re-doing/re-working the frame, taking another run at things, bringing that knowledge back into the actionable field again, and going piece-by-piece, ever-so-slowly, back into the fray. This is where we understand what Humanity is really all about. It’s about life not being fair, but going forward anyway. It’s about being human and fallible, but going forward anyway. It’s about partnering with others, even when the partnership falls through, but going forward anyway, with as much as you can. If we or others have had a bad day, forgiving ourselves or others, and going forward in small, incremental steps to rebuild or say “Goodbye” to the relationship.

When one of our life puzzles is not adding up, do we give ourselves the greatest permission of all – of removing the “offending section” off to the side so that we can rework it into where it DOES fit? That is humanity. That is solution-finding at its best. And that’s the gift we can give each other as fellow travelers in life. The entire puzzle will fit together well in the end, I promise, and that’s all that matters.