You must begin with the outside pieces of a puzzle, the outer reaches of the broken picture. They are the easiest to find, the ones that hold everything together. Then, each piece struggles to find its place, but you must keep in mind it will happen with time. Each piece is significant, and even the not so pretty one’s have their place. Sometimes the pieces that cause the most trouble turn out to be the most influential and every piece after that just falls into place. I believe in puzzling. Staying up until four in the morning working on a puzzle with only a sailboat and blue sky brings us closer. Beginning trial and error, a process of shoving each individual identical piece into the same spot until the right one is found, must be a group decision and at that point we begin to laugh at the simplest things. A person’s true personality comes to the surface at four in the morning, when every thought that comes to mind goes spilling through the mouth, and if you can tolerate her then you can deal with her anytime. Even so, we still follow the rules. Puzzle sister rule #1: never contradict a puzzle sister (except for Lauren). Lauren causes the most trouble, so she must be kept in check. Rule #2: positive reinforcement is required after every extraordinary find, but is always welcomed. Encouragement acknowledges that difficult pieces have been found. Rule #3: repeating things makes them funnier. If it’s funny once, it will be funnier the second time. Rule #4: If a piece is in your way… you still have to respect it. The puzzle is the most important part of the meeting. Rule #5: if Lauren isn’t at a puzzle meeting, then we make fun of Monica. I am after Lauren in the list of causing trouble. Rule #6: if both Monica and Lauren are absent from the puzzle meeting, we are nice to each other. Lauren and I are really the only ones who cause trouble. Rule #7: no shoving puzzle pieces down a puzzle sister’s shirt. That should be obvious, but it happens. If any of these rules are broken, the puzzle lord will slap you. Yet some how these rules keep order in the chaos of a broken image, and each person becomes an important piece of the group who contributes in their own way to create the finished picture.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.