Puzzling Pieces, Picture Imperfect

It was a jumbled mess of pieces when you touched it for the first time. They were somehow supposed to fit and you knew that. So with no idea of how many pieces there were or how many it would take, you went about trying to make sense of each one you found, trying to find the other pieces it fits into. Maybe some started with the pieces which would define its boundaries, leaving for the end the pieces which would make it whole and complete it. It became a little bit easier for them and they were also quicker to form the picture. Maybe some started with the very first piece they picked out of the box and tried to find another one to fit next to it. It took them longer to see the picture come together and it was tedious finding each piece that went next to the other one. Some could see the picture on the box, some couldn’t. Some kept that picture in mind and sorted through the pieces methodically. Some didn’t, and went by a trial-and-error process, not knowing what picture the pieces would form.

The pieces are tiny and detailed. They have intricate edges and this is a puzzle you cannot take a break from. Each of your actions moves a piece towards its place or away from it. A misplaced piece will have repercussions you will face later: Another piece may not fit or pieces may be forced to fit in places that weren’t made for them. As you see a piece being set perfectly into place, you feel satisfied. Maybe there’s a sense of discovery when your mind catches in it a previously hidden detail. There’s a sense of joy at seeing the picture come together. You cannot allow someone else to help you with it because they may not have seen the picture as you see it or they may not want to. Their solutions may not coincide with yours and the puzzle as well as your concentration will be disturbed.

It’s a tricky puzzle, this one. It takes time and patience and a clear vision to put it together. But you get frustrated sometimes and reach for any piece you can find, even if it doesn’t belong to this one. You try to make it fit, but it doesn’t. You let it stay there, hoping it will make up for all those missing pieces underneath it, hoping it will somehow fit. It isn’t supposed to. It doesn’t belong to your puzzle. You must eventually remove that and continue figuring out where the ones that do belong to it go. Some may refuse to see that. They will let that odd piece remain part of the puzzle, disturbing its harmony and obstructing their view of the empty spaces which remain to be filled. Until they remove it and take the tougher route of figuring out exactly what goes there the picture will never be complete.

Whichever method you chose, you painstakingly complete your puzzle one intricate piece at a time. It isn’t easy, but you want to finish it. You want to complete it so you can see exactly what you’ve been working towards. When you do, you’ll be able to look at it for the rest of your life and learn from each piece, from the effort taken to learn its proper place and from the mistakes you made in placing them. So you find all the pieces, their places and make sure nothing’s missing. You feel a sense of elation at having completed it. Everything is in its place and you want nothing more. All that hard work you put into it has borne fruit and you have a sense of accomplishment.

Then you find another piece on the table. It seems like it could belong to your puzzle. You think either you must remove a piece and add that extra one, and if this extra piece cannot harmonise with the other ones around it, you have the other piece to put back in there, or you can simply squeeze that extra piece in, which will make it a tight fit, maybe a little uncomfortable to look at even, but if that extra piece must be removed someday, the others will expand to take its place.You look at it and turn to pick it up, you tilt your head a little and see the puzzle from a different perspective.

In horror, you see that there was a spot for it which you had missed until now. You couldn’t see it because you were looking at it differently, from a different angle, a different perspective, a different point of view! Now, with the piece in your hand, you realise exactly where it’s supposed to fit, exactly where there was an empty space and you begin to place it there. Maybe it’ll fit perfectly as if it was always meant to and the picture will never have been more complete!

But if its colors seem out of sorts, or if it must ever, for any other reason, be removed from this puzzle you’ve put together you will feel its absence. It will leave a hole in the puzzle you used to think was complete before you found that piece. You’ll always see that void because you now have that other perspective. What happens then? What will you do then?  That puzzle will never be complete again…unless you can find another piece which fits. The search will not be easy, for it must fit perfectly into that space and become a part of the picture. So you will keep on looking for that rare piece.

But maybe you should stop the moment you feel ecstatic when you see that picture complete. Maybe you shouldn’t pick up that extra piece. It won’t matter. You put all the pieces together and it’s complete. That last piece you see afterwards could remain extraneous and it wouldn’t make a difference. It takes courage and a lot of self-awareness to let it be, to not go running after that prospect, to know that the puzzle is finished, that you’re happy and that your contentment is absolute. Yes, it would be a perspective, maybe even a world, left unexplored, but you’re happy with status quo, aren’t you? Do you think the risk you’d be taking would be worth the potential sense of loss you’d feel upon viewing the stark, emptiness it’ll have left? Do you want to find out?


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  1. Tulsi Patel

    As always was a pleasure reading it. What are the chances? I love solving puzzles. So here’s some food for thought…… Do you ever get extra pieces to a puzzle? I think you just get the right amount. Not one more not one less. If you want a perfect picture you have to be very careful not to lose any pieces only because you couldn’t see where they fit. And if you do lose it, you’ll have to search real hard. Depending on how desperate you are to have the perfect picture… :)

    • Karishma

      This isn’t a puzzle which tells you how many pieces you get. You take the ones you want and make your own picture. The way I see it, the picture is complete when you are satisfied with what you see, and that’s why anything else is “extraneous.” It’s that shift in perspective created by letting that extra piece into your carefully crafted puzzle which can be its undoing. If you leave it alone, your picture remains complete according to you, from your point of view. But if you choose to find out where it can fit, the picture won’t be complete without it after that. Therein lies my conundrum: To take that chance and find out how well it can fit while risking creation of a void, or to let my picture remain complete, satisfying and fulfilled without it.

      Thank you so very much for letting me know you enjoyed reading it. :)

  2. Parthajeet Sarmah

    I don’t know if I’d have the courage to pick up that extra piece until I come across it, see it, and probably figure out if there’s a place in my puzzle for it… but then again, that piece might change my whole perspective on the entire picture. Perhaps I’ll see a flash of color where I didn’t see one before. Perhaps with that new piece in place, certain other things in the puzzle which looked somewhat out of place will blend synchronously. Perhaps the addition of that new piece will just broaden the horizons of the picture in front of me. And in the end, even if that piece eventually does not fit, at least I’ll have known whether this is the limit to my picture or if there can actually be more to the harmony that it possesses!

    Lovely, lovely post! :)

    • Karishma

      It’s a chance one would be taking. If I’m so happy with what I have, why would I want any more than it, especially when there’s a risk involved? It’s scary to let your perspective change sometimes and it’s putting that piece into the puzzle which will effect that change. You probably won’t know by looking at it. It’s scary knowing that it might involve losing this feeling of utter contentment. It’s a matter, really, of whether you think the risk is worth the potential loss. And, you’re right, it will also take courage to risk what you already have, and you won’t know until you come across that extra piece.

      Thank you very much for appreciating it so. :)


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