A single piece of a puzzle isn’t worth much.
It can have vibrant colors and intricate patterns but without the rest of the puzzle it’s meaningless. A piece of a puzzle trying to make it alone is as senseless as the rest of the puzzle deciding it doesn’t like that one piece, and trying to look good and complete with that piece missing.
“We don’t think YOU belong with us. We don’t think you measure up to our obvious wonderfulness. You’re just not good enough to be in OUR puzzle. Beat it. Scram. Who needs ya anyway?”
You’ve been the missing piece, haven’t you? Stings, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t matter how many other puzzles you try to fit in with, does it? You even find one or two with a piece missing who are willing to accept you and you try to fit in, but something’s always rubbing where it shouldn’t. And it can be a painful thing to try to force yourself to fit in ways never intended.
The other extreme isn’t any better. . .
“Ay, puzzle! I don’t need YOU ALL to make ME look good. I can do better BY MYSELF!!!”
Consider your own personal experience with both things: a puzzle with a piece missing, and a piece missing its puzzle.
What eventually happens to both?
Can a puzzle missing a piece or two still be a puzzle worth unpuzzling? It can. We rationalize, “We can still work on it from time to time…” But we don’t. There’s always that little niggling thought in your mind of how much better it’d look if the pieces were all there. Soon it’s got a piece of masking tape with “25 cents” on it, waiting for the spring yard sale.
What’s the inevitable question by anyone interested in buying it? Right. And it gets left laying by itself on the ‘Marked Down’ table, soon to join the recyclables in the big grey bin by the fence.
Puzzles trying to get along minus a piece or two do about as well as a single piece does.
How long do you hang onto a piece of a puzzle before it goes in the garbage?
Since you and I have both been ‘the piece in need of a puzzle’ and ‘part of the puzzle knowing there’s a piece missing’ at different points in life, we don’t need to pound the expired pony.
No matter how talented, able and driven, I haven’t done very well setting on a table as a single piece, scraping and scrambling for all the spotlight and notoriety and wanting all the cookies for myself. After all, single puzzle pieces aren’t very attractive, all lopsided and pooched out in some areas and sunken and seriously lacking – even hollow – in others.
That’s the way I look, setting out there all alone. Slightly ridiculous, actually. Hmm. A picture: “Stubborn, self-pitying and -absorbed demanding single wishes to meet easy-to-please, gullible unpieced puzzle. Must be open to cramming and being forced. Nonfitters only, please. Like short powerfits and mahogany coffee tables. See in living room.”
That’s the way you look, too. There’s need for honest communication and the best form of compromise. But in general terms, puzzles don’t intentionally drive off single pieces. For whatever reason, they’re not close by when it’s time to get back in the box with all the rest of the pieces. They get isolated, fall off the table, get brushed up with Dorito crumbs and old pizza crusts. Sometimes they get vacuumed.
It doesn’t matter how many other pieces have been in the group – 25, 100, 500, 1,000 or more. it’s always made me feel small inside to let myself be drawn into ‘puzzlethink’ and look at somebody else with the thought that they don’t stack up to our style, polish, or pizzazz and we don’t need ’em. There’s just something about a single puzzle piece that makes you want to holler, “Hey–what’d you do with your puzzle?”
The reverse kind of puzzlethink is just as haywire. “I’m my own piece. I don’ need no steenking puzzle. I’m good just the way I am; the puzzle can find me.”
Nope. I’ve never felt right being that way and involving myself in puzzlethink in either direction.
I don’t think you have, either.
Know what? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we were to get a little closer together we might just find out that this empty spot in part of me perfectly fits that lopsided extra place in you. And together we sort of make a little more sense and create a little more color, and if we got together with him, and her, and. . .
YES! MISSING PUZZLE PIECES OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
Whaddya mean? Of course it’ll work.
God makes us fit perfectly together if you and I let Him do the fitting. And that IS the key, you know. I’ve yet to see a puzzle make itself.
Let there be piece (s).
Originally written 8/10 (c) April 2013