Jigsaws With Missing Pieces

I’ve never really watched anything by Dave Gorman before, no reason not to, he just hadn’t come to my attention. Then a guy at work suggested it so I tried an episode of Dave Gorman’s Modern Life Is Goodish and the first one I found had a segment about jigsaws. Basically, he found that jigsaw manufacturers used the same patterned pieces just with different pictures printed over them for different sets. He was able to mix the pieces up to make amusing results and it was all entertaining and very clever. I have no idea how he noticed it but it made for very good viewing.

It was months later while working on a story when the episode randomly came back into my mind. I’d forgotten about it completely and then it popped into my head with a new relevance attached.

Each of us is like a jigsaw. We are all made of the same things but our different experiences and beliefs give us a different picture on the surface. Everything we have seen, heard, read, watched or felt all build up to make the composite of who we are.

The perfect person would have a clear image, mirroring exactly what’s printed on the box. Most of us are not perfect. Most of us have had bad experiences in life that leave us with damaged, missing or defaced pieces.
They’re the things people try their best to hide but are always visible even if it’s only when alone and you try to look at yourself in the mirror.

So what can we do about those missing pieces? Some people try to pretend they aren’t there while others try to fill their life with experiences to patch the holes. This is why you often see damaged people with obsessive behaviour. The crazy cat lady probably didn’t have a perfect life. The homeless drug addict didn’t decide to one day sleep rough and take heroin. It’s the broken and missing pieces that scar us and when the voids become too big to hide we become unrecognisable from who we should be.

Another way to think about our jigsaws is that people can damage the pieces but people can repair or replace them too. Sometimes you will meet someone who has a piece you like and you might emulate it. It can be called inspiration, success breeds success and it’s the same reason Britain spent millions ‘Inspiring A Generation’ with the 2012 Olympics. Someone sees a successful runner and thinks that a running piece would look good in their jigsaw so they buy some trainers and hit the pavement

The same method works by copying other pieces. I once left a show in Brixton and watched as hundreds of people walked past a homeless guy sitting on the corner. Nobody gave him a look until one guy stopped and handed him some money. The people who saw him hand over the money then followed suit and repeated the same act of kindness.

The final and most important way to fix your jigsaw is through meeting people and opening up. This can be hard for jigsaws that have been stamped on and kicked around but with care, you can find someone. When you find that person, you won’t have to emulate their pieces because they’ll hand you one of theirs. When you meet the right person they will give you a piece of theirs to fit into your broken jigsaw. Then something odd will happen, the hole they should have from sharing will vanish. In it will be the broken piece you had but it will fit into them and become part of their picture while the part they gave you will remain forever as a reminder of them.

This is why the people who give the most of themselves often have the fullest picture of who they are. They understand that by giving a part of their jigsaw to help someone else, they will build a better image of themselves.

© 2017 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.

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