Like many of you, my days are full from early morning until night. There always seems to be more things on the To Do List than there are hours in the day. Since I can remember, I would always arrive 5 or 10 minutes early for appointments, lunches, and meetings with friends. Now I arrive just in the nick of time, right on the dot, with never a minute to spare. Time is a scarce commodity when you live by the clock. (I am trying to break free of this imprisonment by the way – a subject for my next blog perhaps!)
I’m getting ready to go overseas for an extended stay. In the lead up to my departure, I planned to attend a week-long ‘retreat’ - which might seem like the worst time to start a new jigsaw puzzle. I even went out and bought a brand new one so I would have no idea how the pieces were going to fit together.
Given my time scarcity issue, my impending trip overseas and the retreat, I’m guessing this has most of my friends wondering why I am ‘taking the time’ to put a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle together. I’ve been trying to work it out myself.
Am I using the exercise of putting the pieces of the puzzle together as a way of procrastinating on other things that I need to do? Is it a way to ‘check-out’ and forget about the pressure of getting things done or the craziness of today’s world news? Does it relax me? It is it a mini-retreat from reality?
Starting a puzzle a few days before I’m going to be immersed in a ‘retreat’ atmosphere makes no sense at all. But as you know (if you’ve been reading my earlier blogs), I’m learning to respond to impulses that come to guide me. I have learned to read these impulse signposts through the work I’ve undertaken within myself and from the presentations of the Ageless Wisdom as presented at Universal Medicine events.
The previous ten years, the Universal Medicine Retreat was not about having a ‘relaxing time’. This year was no exception. This Retreat is not about ‘retreating’ from the world, but the exact opposite. It is about learning how to live in the world more fully, more aware, more committed. The first event starts at 5:30am so I generally rise between 3 and 3:30am. By the time I arrive home in the evening, getting to bed is all I can think about! No time for fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.
During the Retreat, we are engaged in group work. With each assignment or task, we are asked to re-organise ourselves into groups of 4 or 5 people, which gives everyone a chance to share their perspective or ask questions. The simplest way to describe the overall experience of the Retreat is to say that by the end of the week, we have a new way of seeing the world, which we’ve each gotten to in our own way, through the group work.
This isn’t always comfortable because it usually means letting go of old ways, old patterns, and old behaviours that no longer serve us, personally or collectively. Replacing these old ways with new eyes, new ways of seeing the energy that is behind everything is an expansion of consciousness. Everything is a form of energy. So learning to read the energy behind situations and actions is like starting primary school all over again. In order to see with new eyes, for me, generally means dismantling the construct of the world I have assembled through my beliefs and ideals. Disassembling how I view things or how I think things are working – or SHOULD BE working, leaves me feeling a bit rudderless or cut adrift to use a couple of nautical terms. Initially, my sense of uncertainty always increases until I can get my bearings in the new world.
When I returned home from the retreat, I discovered that I had already connected all the edge pieces of my new 1000 piece puzzle, prior to the retreat week. So the day after the retreat, I already knew where the boundary was, but all the other pieces just looked like a scattered mess, that I could make no sense of.
The pieces were small. I knew they all fit together, somehow, into a whole but I didn’t know where to start. I felt overwhelmed. Was this puzzle going to be too hard? I considered just putting it all back in the box rather than putting myself through the process of trying to figure it out.
Then I realised that I felt the same about the new life waiting for me post-retreat as I did about the jigsaw puzzle – I didn’t know where to begin. As I make changes within myself, the world around me changes. So for me, putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together is analogical to making sense of our ever-changing, constantly expanding world. Its part of my process of fitting the pieces of my life together.
Later that day, I walked up to the puzzle table and suddenly could see certain colours and patterns in some of the pieces. I started grouping them together. Yet after awhile, I noticed that I hit a standstill with being able to ‘see with clarity.’ Nothing seemed to fit together. So I would go off and do something else and the next time I walked by the table, I was able to spot a few pieces that go here and there, and once those pieces are in place, then this other block of pieces fits in.
I’ve discovered over the years, with other jigsaw puzzles, that when I become obsessed and sit for hours, hunching over the table of pieces, getting a backache, straining my eyes, making very little progress that I end up being very much the worse for the wear.
I’m not that inconsiderate of my body nowadays. I work in smaller stints, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a half hour if the light is right and I’m feeling like it. This, I realized, is more my more recent approach to life. I no longer try to ‘push through’ and ‘think things through’. Instead, I engage in the process of ‘pondering’ and letting things find a livingness in my body, instead of my mind.
I’ve also discovered, that if I don’t impose a deadline on myself – as in “I must get this puzzle done before… a dinner party, or whatever - and in this particular instance, before I depart on my overseas trip”, it is much more enjoyable. I’ve learned to not worry about if and when the puzzle will be completed, instead just enjoying the process of fitting the pieces together. I am even willing to box up this unfinished puzzle if I don’t have it completed by the time I’m leaving for the airport.
Part of the joy of life is learning to let go of things that don’t really matter in the long run and, at the same time, staying committed to putting the pieces of the puzzle together. This leaves me free to explore the energetic world of space and yet keeps me fully anchored in the temporal world.
Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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