I love jigsaw puzzles.
Always have, probably always will. I love jigsaws probably for the same reason I like maths or chemical formulas – there’s always an answer.
It’s either correct or it’s not.
It either fits or it doesn’t.
For someone who spends much of her life floating in the uncertain mists of possibility, there is something very satisfying about the simplicity of a distinct choice.
Yes or no.
Wrong or right.
Never maybe or perhaps.
But that’s not to say that jigsaws, maths or chemistry are necessarily straightforward. For anyone that has ever attempted a jigsaw, particularly one of those sprawling take-over-every-available-flat-surface, thousand-upon-thousand piece puzzles, the solution rarely comes easily. There’s always that moment of absolute frustration you reach, where no piece seems to fit. As your irritation grows, your gaze darts at ever increasing pace between the image on the front of the box and all the scattered pieces before you. It seems impossible that those pieces could ever possibly come together to form that complete picture.
You hold piece after piece in your hand and whatever combination you try, wherever you try to place each piece, absolutely nothing seems to work. You’ve hit a wall – that barrier which feels completely insurmountable … and you naturally start to question everything. Maybe the puzzle manufacturers made a mistake and left out some pieces? Perhaps the box accidentally includes pieces from a different jigsaw? At this point it’s best to simply walk away and take some time out from puzzle solving.
That place of frustration is where I’ve found myself lingering of late. While everything ebbs and flows, more often than not I’ve recently felt like I’m stuck at an impasse. There have been moments in which I’ve felt completely overwhelmed by my inability to make everything or anything fit. There have been moments in which I’ve been soaked to the bone with that chilly, pervasive and all too unsettling sensation that nothing is as it should be. And so for the past couple of weeks I’ve let all that uncertainty, all the second guesses, and all of that self-doubt just be. I reasoned that if I simply stepped away from the mess of pieces for a while, perhaps everything would miraculously fall into place.
For those who know my story, the past six months have definitely been like the biggest roller coaster adventure of my life – since making the decision to purse a change of career there have been some really high highs and some really low lows. I had perhaps naively assumed that by making such a drastic life change, I would find myself suddenly living a life of bliss where happiness abounds and dark times never dare to venture. Well no, not quite.
After tossing and turning my way through countless almost-sleepless nights, I was jolted awake at 4.30am one cold and dark winter morning with a clear realisation. I finally understood what had been plaguing me these past few weeks – it was that the picture of what my life should be, could in no way be represented by all the pieces which were currently scattered in front of me.
Clearly change was needed.
This acknowledgement of something not being right, now seems so obvious, but it’s amazing how long you can spend trying to press those ill-fitting pieces into places they just don’t fit. Eventually you come to realise that it’s you, not the puzzle that has got things wrong. And even if you don’t yet have all the right answers, you can at least finally get some sleep.
I definitely don’t regret any of the big decisions I’ve made in the last six months. I feel completely confident that I’m on the right journey, it’s just that my path has been a little more winding, presented me with a few more wide rivers to cross, and involved a lot more backtracking than first expected.
Once I understood my life was not where I wanted it to be, I began to reflect on why I felt so off kilter. Did I not enjoy what I was doing? Could teaching yoga perhaps not be for me? After much reflection, I felt completely assured that becoming a yoga teacher has honestly been one of the greatest blessings and joys of my life, and it has changed me as a person for the better – and continues to change me the more deeply entwined this life of yoga and I become.
So rather than the pieces in front of me being wrong, the problem was that there was a really important piece missing. In simply opening my heart and mind to the question, an answer was revealed. The growing sense of wrongness that I’d been experiencing was because I had stopped writing.
How I actually want my days to look is very different from how they currently look, and a big part of that is because I’d closed writing out of my life. In changing careers I’d made a positive shift, but it was like I had thrown the pendulum too far – moving from one extreme to the other. In transitioning from the corporate world to life as a yoga teacher, instead of enriching my life with more creative space, I’d somehow created an unsatisfying void between those two lifestyles.
No wonder I’d been feeling so empty.
Since opening the door and inviting writing back into my life, I instantly felt the rightness, the lightness, of that decision.
Maybe this particular puzzle will take a lot longer to figure out than I first thought, but at least those all important border pieces are no longer feeling so far out of reach. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that when faced with those moments of great resistance – where something seems to be missing or nothing seems to fit – the best thing to do is simply walk away and reflect.
In returning to the jigsaw, you often discover the next puzzle piece patiently waiting. You just had to be open enough to truly see what was in front of you all along.