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Puzzle pieces, face down

Pieces of Life's Puzzle

I want to share with you something Xenon shared with me some three or four years ago now.

He and I were sitting in the back area of the Omphalos Cafe. The front door had been locked and we were drinking a bottle of wine. Besides the bottle, the table between us was littered with books we had pulled from the shelves, commented upon, or read passages from.

Now and then we’ve enjoyed that sort of evening, sharing ideas, thoughts and impressions. Neither of us are great conversationalists, although we are both good listeners.

I was drawing him out on the subject of Poetic Truths, or a comprehension of Life or God, or however you want to call it.

‘Artists are few and far between,’ he was saying. ‘I mean Artist in the Priest, Shaman sense. Our culture does not promote that sort of awakening, and especially that sort of growth. There’s too much noise, too many distractions. And those that do attain to…enlightenment, tend to do so behind the scenes.’

I’m paraphrasing here. I wasn’t taking notes.

‘I’ll tell you,’ he said, ‘how I experienced it.’

‘Imagine a puzzle, a big jigsaw puzzle with say a thousand pieces or more. And that puzzle when assembled on your table will be the Essence of Life.’

‘Now imagine the pieces spread on your table upside down. And then there’s one more thing: as you work on the puzzle you can only look at the face side of each piece one or at most two at a time.’

‘You turn one over and study its face. If you know where it goes–and how can you at first?–you can place it there, if not, you turn it back over and are then free to look at another.’

‘Over time, if you look at enough pieces, studying them, or just glancing at more and more, one at a time as I said, something begins to take shape in your imagination. The process is very slow, and who has time for that sort of thing nowadays?’

‘But, if you persist, as I did,‘ he said, getting excited with what he was saying, ‘if you experience great joy in linking together pieces as I have, then one day it just might dawn on you–but even that is not quite true, because even that happens gradually over time. But all the same it takes shape, in your imagination, and you know. You know…’

He trailed off, grew thoughtful. Whether it was the wine, or perhaps the difficulty of the subject, or a combination of both, I’m not sure.