A puzzle I won at a friend’s Steampunk barbecue really resonated with me. It’s James Christensen’s piece called Balancing Act. The piece shows a man balancing items like hearts, flutes, clocks, yin-yang symbols, soccer balls, cake, angels, devices, bottles, fruits, vegetables, keys, candy, and more with his nose, both hands, and one foot while the other foot rests on a living turtle. Life is a struggle between religious beliefs, eating well and treating yourself, exercising, enjoying games, time, love, learning, and more. Coins are falling out of his money bag as he attempts to keep the balance. The object the turtle is walking on looks much like a chess board. Also in the picture are the skull of a long dead turtle, two prey animals, and the statue of a king who is staring at this farce. The man himself is dressed in possibly Elizabethan attire suggesting culture is another thing we must balance. There is an unopened package on the table, probably because he’s been too busy with everything else to bother opening it. You can see it below.
This is life. While balancing all of this, we must continue to move forward even if it’s slow like a turtle on land.
We are all, like this puzzle, made up of many pieces. If you give too much weight to any single piece, the whole thing will fall down. And no matter how slow, it’s always in motion, so we’ll forever be having to balance.
My puzzle has pieces like:
– aspiring screenwriter
– hobbyist musician
– martial artist
– alpha woman
– hobbyist artist
– former project manager
– trained social worker
– former computer technician
– former catalogue delivery person
– former actress
– former roleplayer
– gluten intolerant person
– autoimmune condition sufferer
– has hoarder parent
– has former workaholic father
– doesn’t know who maternal grandfather was
– former roller derby player
– former theatre worker
– former copywriter
– former fast food worker
– former government worker
– former spouse
– former victim of bullying
Sometimes people look at the pieces that are part of another’s puzzle and only see a few of the pretty ones and think they want a puzzle like the other person has. The grass always seems greener on the other side and from that distance you might not see the weeds.
Your puzzle is different because you are different. It makes no sense to be upset that your puzzle doesn’t look like my puzzle. You are not accepting yourself when you do that. You are not giving yourself permission to be yourself. If you truly accept who you are, you have no fear of hearing other perspectives.
Also, my puzzle could be broken down further. For government jobs, I’ve worked at the North Bay Police Service, the Ministry of Correctional Services and Community Safety, for Ontario Northland, and for the Ontario Clean Water Agency. The martial arts could be broken down into each I’ve studied. Writer could be broken down into every genre plus non-fiction and poetry.
You don’t see how some things in my mother’s puzzle affect me. It doesn’t talk about how my grandfather has been erased from our history for some reason no one alive knows today who he was or why there needs to be a shameful secret about him. It doesn’t say that my mother was born and lived on a First Nations reserve yet instead of First Nations blood, I have the blood of English and French royalty in me somehow.
When you look at a few pieces that someone chooses to share online, they are often not sharing any of the scary bits or very few of them. I didn’t list everything above that I’ve been through or done, but they’re all part of me.
The cool thing is that if you really want to make changes to your puzzle, you can. But you won’t get there by coveting mine. It all takes hard work and perseverance.
Stop obsessively comparing yourself to others. You are in a race with yourself, not me.
The best thing to do is to figure out who you are and what you want out of life without feeling envious about the success of others. You do you and let them do them. The mountain they are climbing isn’t likely the same one you are and even if it is, your path doesn’t have to be the same to the top.
Best wishes on your journey.