Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle.

Borders is going out of business.  I often feel disproportionately sad and guilty when faceless, corporate giants go under, for whatever reason.  Well, corporate giants as well as “mom and pop” stores/the underdog.  I’m a man of many contradictions, what can I say?

I didn’t feel guilty enough, however, not to miss out on the crazy sales.  30, 40 and 50% off of everything in the store?  Are you kidding?  I may have gone a little crazy.  To the point where, while riding the “getting everything on sale” high, I saw a puzzle in the checkout line and thought, “how can I not buy a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle?”  (I actually went back later that same day with Mom and bought a second one...It was on SALE, people!)

The puzzle in question is a picture of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

The Kiss, by Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.

If you’re anything like me, this image would seem easy at first glance.  I looked at the patterns and thought it would be a relaxing, frustration-free project.  Well, five dollars later, I realized that the background is comprised of an amorphous pattern of paint splatterings, and 80% of the primary imagery is a repeated black, grey and gold pattern.   Not ideal for reassembly.

I will say, however, that the few hours I’ve spent on this puzzle so far have been quite interesting.  In a weird way, it’s been both a reassuring and enlightening experience.  I guess there’s a certain amount of subconscious life reflection that occurs while spending hours leaning over the kitchen table, staring at funny-shaped pieces of colorful, reinforced paper.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from time to time.
It’s broken into 1000 pieces!  Literally!  Let someone help you, dammit!

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You can always move to a different part of the puzzle, then come back to where you’re stuck later.  It will still get done!

Deep down, we’re all still children, hoping to get that nod of approval.
I’d better explain this one.  Every time I manage to fit two puzzle pieces together, I do a little dance in my head and I have to stop myself from saying aloud, “Look, Dad!  Look!  Did you see that?!  I just put two pieces together!  Right there!  I did it!”  This happens every time.  It’s remarkable. 

Don’t give up!
No explanation needed.

Just because you want a piece to fit somewhere, doesn’t mean it will.
In life, whether it be work, love or other, sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s just the way it goes.  Don’t for a second let that get you down!  There’s still 999 more pieces out there to try!  Every piece fits perfectly somewhere.  Finding exactly where is part of the whole, wonderfully frustrating adventure.

And, finally, the most obvious one: Life is easier piece-by-piece.
Having a “big picture” idea is great, but don’t forget that getting there doesn’t happen all at once.  It's better to tackle things one part at time.

The fam and I are still working on the puzzle.  So far the worst thing about it is that, even though we’ve repeatedly measured the border dimensions to make sure we’re not missing anything (which we aren’t), the outside pieces are all so similar that we’re still not sure how the border goes together.  Frustration-free my tuchus.