Wanderings & Wonderings


Jigsaw Puzzles and Writing

I got into a “flow” the other day while working on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Hmm…this feels familiar. This is similar to the feeling I can get into when I write—although it’s been a while since I’ve felt it. I get lost in the process. Thinking takes a back seat, and my gut takes over. I didn’t always enjoy jigsaw puzzles. I tried to “think” my way through them as I saw others do.

Edge pieces first—which is helpful to get started, match colors and shapes—do a section at a time. Some of this works for me, and some doesn’t. Finding pieces that fit is addicting. It’s intermittent reinforcement because not every piece fits where it appears to go. 

The feeling of satisfaction when you find pieces that fit and begin to shape a picture is similar to writing. Finding unexpected pieces of the story as I write is an exhilarating surprise. If I can get past overthinking and let the pieces speak to me, I’m absorbed by the picture or the story. What pieces appeal or pop out and grab my attention? I begin to trust myself and go where the pieces take me. I trust they will go somewhere. 

The puzzle slowly comes together, and a piece I thought was part of one thing turns out to fit somewhere else. It’s all there. It’s not obvious at first where every piece goes. You have a picture of the end result, and there are thousands of ways of getting to the full finished product. There’s not one right way to piece it together.

Sometimes walking away and allowing the picture or story to “percolate” helps when I’m stuck. Making a chicken sandwich suddenly loosens the block I’m having with the puzzle or my writing. Showering is another way to clear the pathways. Walking outside helps energize my brain, and I’m on my way.

Tolerance

Some friends and I were discussing how we learn tolerance and how to respect another
person’s narrative or personal “truth”.

One friend referred to a quote by Desmond Tutu about how we are only truly human
when we are together. We have a frame of reference for our humanity when we are together.

The other piece I see when we talk about tolerance is our human tendency to categorize
and label things to understand them. We put people in boxes to try and understand them. “Oh, I
understand you because you’re this or that.” (Fill in the blank).

It takes time and patience to sit down, get to know someone, listen to a person’s
narrative, and understand where a person is coming from. It’s easier and less time-consuming to
“think” we understand by labeling and categorizing.

Labeling and categorizing have their place and help us function as humans in our world.
We don’t have the brain power or time to spend getting to know every person in every encounter.
My thought is rather than using categories and labels as end points when we file people or ideas
into “boxes”, we work to see them as beginnings, places to start with someone or start with an
idea. “I know this about you, tell me more about what you’d like me to know.”

When we categorize a person into one way to understand him or her, we diminish the
whole person, and in turn, we diminish ourselves. Our world becomes smaller, we become
smaller.

Humans are complex, multi-dimensional, and unpredictable (as in one box doesn’t dictate
how someone thinks and feels about all topics), and once you “think” you know someone or
understand his or her narrative, you don’t—because it changes as the person changes.

I’m not a category. I’m not a group. I’m not a belief. I can be part of each of those, AND
one of those isn’t the whole me. I’m me with complex beliefs, emotions, passions, preferences,
dislikes, opinions, non-opinions, likes, loves, hates, desires, positives, negatives, vulnerabilities,
flaws, strengths, and wishes. Please don’t pretend you know me because you know a few things
about me. There are no certainties about me, and if I don’t fully know myself, how can you
possibly know me? Or judge me based on one thing you’ve observed?

Don’t smother me in a box. Give me space. Give yourself space to breathe and expand.

I’m not a category. I’m not a group. I’m not a belief. I can be part of each of those, AND
one of those isn’t the whole me. I’m me with complex beliefs, emotions, passions, preferences,
dislikes, opinions, non-opinions, likes, loves, hates, desires, positives, negatives, vulnerabilities,
flaws, strengths, and wishes. Please don’t pretend you know me because you know a few things
about me. There are no certainties about me, and if I don’t fully know myself, how can you
possibly know me? Or judge me based on one thing you’ve observed?
Don’t smother me in a box. Give me space. Give yourself space to breathe and expand.