Puzzle about life? Don’t be. We’re
supposed to put the pieces together
Life’s a dance, you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don’t worry ‘bout what you don’t know
Life’s a dance, you learn as you go
— Lyrics from country singer John Michael Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance”
Most of us come into the world wailing a high note.
We find our way at first doing what comes natural and mimicking others.
Then we start testing the proverbial hot burners of life either dismissing or not listening to the advice of others.
As we test our limits we also think we’re trailblazers and that we have all the answers. If we are somewhat wise, we keep such silly thoughts to ourselves.
And if we’re smart we never stop learning while realizing the smarter we get it is clear the less we truly know.
Supposedly today by the numerical fact I’ve started my 65th year I’ve entered some sort of other realm.
But in reality I’m not much different than someone a half century my junior. There is always something new to learn and there is always a different way to see things.
Singers like John Michael Montgomery like to think of life as a dance. We can waltz through it, tackle it with aggressive break dancing, burn both ends of the proverbial candle doing disco with a twist or two thrown in, enjoy the passion of the tango that will lead to — if we’re lucky — being able to do the two step, and keep moving to the music until the last note fades into silence.
I like to think of life as a puzzle.
It’s a puzzle that is finished only once you stop adding pieces and not when you complete a preordained pattern.
Some of the pieces are provided by your parents, others by those who cross your path. Most you secure in your own,
But unlike table puzzles, there is no picture in mass produced art printed on the side of a box you can buy for $9.99 telling you what your life will look like when it is completed.
You may have a vision of what it will look like but until you find the pieces and put them together that it is all pure conjecture.
Often the best part is what you end up piecing together is something you never saw coming.
You will try things that appear to be the right fit you’ve longed for only to find out it does not piece together. It may irk, frustrate, or even anger you. But once you do find the piece that fits best next the reward makes all the negatives fade and disappear.
Some are able to piece the puzzle together fairly flawlessly. They may do so with help from others or methodically analyzing every piece before they venture connecting it with another to avoid disappointment. But somehow the puzzle that comes together through trial and error while trying new things feels more rewarding than one that was a proverbial walk in the park or failure-free to piece together.
If you doubt that, take stock of your reaction — basically your sense of accomplishment, pleasure, or happiness and how long that lasts — when all the puzzles come together without a hitch.
Then do a puzzle that you have to invest a lot of time and frustration in to get the pieces to fit.
Which one gives you more than just fleeting pleasure?
Rewards are sweeter when you have to invest blood, sweat and tears to secure them.
I never gave any thought to what I wanted to be when I was 65 back when I was 18.
It was a time when it seemed 30 was borderline old and 65 downright prehistoric.
Never in my wildest dreams at age 30 did I think I’d call a place named Manteca my home, marry and divorce, or have two great grandkids including one named Wyatt.
I did have “wild” dreams 35 years ago but in all honesty what I have experienced since then — even the extreme rough and scary parts — has led to a pretty good place.
There have been a few regrets along the way but as a wise man some called Francis once crooned “they are too few to mention.”
Wallowing in regrets is foolish. It can lead to anger that undermines your own well-being and can be a threat to others. It also has a nasty tendency of stopping you from seeking out other pieces that can make the puzzle complete.
People like to say we are born with a clean slate. We are not.
We did not enter this world in a vacuum. There are influences that mold who we are long before that day arrives when our parents take off our training wheels and allow us to bicycle the neighborhood on our own,
The puzzle we put together over the years is our puzzle. It is not our parents’ puzzle, our siblings’ puzzle, our teachers’ puzzle, or anyone’s puzzle.
Even algorithms that supposedly helped Facebook know us better then we know ourselves so they could make millions from clicks can never be a 100 percent match.
It’s because we are the sum total of what we piece together on our journey through life — nothing more and nothing less.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org