While rocking in the New Year, dressed in pj’s and enjoying a bottle of our favorite wine, my fiancé and I were working on a puzzle we had purchased earlier that night.
Between the sips of wine and idle chit-chat, we sat in silence, separating the pieces. First, we started with the border, then arranged them in different piles according to their colors.
In the middle of placing a piece where it belonged, I noticed that I tapped each piece as it fell into place. Immediately a memory of my mother doing that exact same thing popped into my mind and I found a smile washing across my face.
It was then that I remembered why I loved puzzles so much: they made me feel present and reminded me of my mother.
My mother always had puzzles on the table as long as I can remember—from my childhood, all the way up until her death. Even as my sisters and I watched over her in her last days, we kept ourselves busy with a puzzle she had started with us. While my mother was losing her battle with cancer, only an arm’s length away, that puzzle quieted our minds and allowed us to focus on the present.
Quiet, still, and peaceful.
Unfortunately, just as it had been some time since I’d done a puzzle, it had also been some time since I’d experienced quiet, stillness, and peace. So with a new year starting, I found my way to a yoga studio.
After finishing an amazing Vinyasa Flow class, our teacher guided us into savasana. While beautiful chants filled my ears, I imagined myself in a red desert with tall clay canyons as far as the eye could see. Just then, an image of my mother appeared to me in my mind’s eye. She was smiling, as always, with her big blue eyes.
I had a million questions for her. Questions about my life and why things were as they were. What was next for me and was I doing alright?
Soon I felt my mind begin to race with anxiety. Realizing my thoughts were spiraling out of control, my mind showed me an image of a puzzle. In that moment, I got it.
“Treat the puzzle of life just as you treat any puzzle before you.”
I could feel myself settle, remembering the peace I felt when doing puzzles. I began to rediscover the quiet and stillness I experienced as I would sift through all the pieces—knowing that when a piece didn’t fit, I didn’t get angry. I simply put it aside and continued my search.
I began to see the joy, the simple pleasure and ease, of finding the pieces that do fit and celebrating them, even if it was just with a tapping of my finger.
The puzzle of life doesn’t have to be stressful, but we need to stop forcing pieces into places where they don’t fit. All this does is show us a distorted image of the life we’re meant to live. We must be patient, knowing that all the pieces will eventually fit. Yet, we must also be determined to put in the work.
For a puzzle does not put itself together.
No, it is with time, patience, and perhaps, with a glass of our favorite wine. Somewhere in the middle of New Year’s, a puzzle, and a hot yoga class, I found my piece of the puzzle.
You better believe I’m tapping this one in. And as always, thanks for the reminder, Mom. I know you continue to watch over me long after you’re gone.
Author: Anne DeLima
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman