The Puzzling thing about Puzzles

I was recently in a workshop where puzzle building was a part of it.  The interesting thing about this exercise was that we were not allowed to speak to each other while putting the puzzle together, yet we had to have agreement regarding who did what.  We had to complete our puzzle before we could help any other group in the room.

My group had the picture up and started diligently working on the puzzle.  Interestingly, people took on roles without anything being said, one team member started with the frame, one started with the “guts” of the puzzle and I stood back and observed.  Some of the puzzle pieces looked weird to me.  Sure enough, they were not a part of our puzzle.  I motioned to my group non-verbally and got their okay to collect them.  Then I went to the other groups around us and started offering the pieces I thought they could use, all the while seeking their consent to give the pieces to them and likewise, take the pieces on the table that they had that looked like they belonged to our puzzle.

Soon everyone was following suit and getting their puzzles done.  It was so interesting to read the body language of everyone in the room.  Some teams welcomed your help others clearly indicated that you were not welcome to assist them.  Eventually we all got our puzzles done, all in somewhat different ways yet, we were all eventually successful.

So who cares, right?  What does building a puzzle have to do with anything?

When you set out to put a puzzle together, what is the first thing you do?  Do you open the box and dump all the pieces out and then sort them according to “edges” vs. the “guts” of the puzzle?  What part of the puzzle do you put together first- do you put the outside together first or do you start to build the picture inside?  And probably, most interestingly – do you or don’t you refer to the picture on the puzzle box before you get started?

What if you look at the puzzle as a metaphor for your life? What?!  Yep, look at how you approach solving a puzzle and parallel that with how you are living your life.   Are you creating boundaries for yourself by putting the edges on first or are you playfully putting together the images within the puzzle to see what transforms?

Do you refer to the box top for direction or do you let a little bit of fate help determine the outcome of the puzzle?

  •  Life does not always come with the picture on the box.  Although we have a “plan” in place, sometimes we are shown the wrong picture for our own puzzle.  We can spend years trying to put a puzzle together that just doesn’t belong to us.
  • We need others to complete our puzzle because sometimes, we just don’t have all of the puzzle pieces we need to complete the puzzle.  While doing things on our own is fine, we all need assistance sometimes and getting someone else’s puzzle pieces is sometimes necessary.  Likewise, sharing some of our puzzle pieces is sometimes the right thing to do.
  • Sometimes leaving a space in the “edges” of our puzzle gives us room to expand and sometimes we don’t need to know every detail within the puzzle to carry on just fine.
  • Someone or something will constantly be taking puzzle pieces away from you and likewise, handing you the ones you need when the time is right.

Puzzles are meant to be taken apart and rebuilt.  Sometimes we can go years before we dust off the puzzle box and make another attempt at it.  Is it time to take your puzzle out of the box and see where the pieces are today?  What will be different this time?