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What If It Isn't About The Big Picture?

Posted on October 12 2015

Whenever someone is giving me a pep talk, they often say “It’s all about the big picture" or  "Keep your eye on the prize.” I also often hear “In the end, you won’t remember the hard times.” As someone who looks at life as an incredibly intricate puzzle, I can’t help but think about how misleading and false these seemingly harmless words of encouragement are. I constantly find myself asking, “What if it really isn’t about the big picture?”

If you’re a puzzle lover or have ever had the pleasure of working on a puzzle with family or friends, you know that the beginning of putting a puzzle together is the hardest part. That moment when you dump all the pieces on the table is usually one filled with both anxiety and doubt as to how you’re going to get the mess in front of you to look like the perfect picture on the box.

In spite of the chaos staring you in the face, you start with one piece. You rummage through the mess and you find other pieces that fit into the first piece. You jam certain pieces together but realize they don’t work, so you try again. Depending on how complicated the puzzle is, you may take a breather and come back to it again when you’re ready.

Quite often, you find yourself scratching your head and whispering “What? Why? How?” Other times, you get pretty close to pulling your hair out. You search for lost pieces. In fact, it seems like you’re always searching for lost pieces. There are times when you almost give up but you trudge on. When a piece fits into another perfectly, you jump and scream for joy.


Throughout the process of putting the entire puzzle together, you have as many moments of frustration, impatience and anger as you have elation, joy and excitement. You realize that every single piece serves a purpose and every single piece holds equal weight; none is greater in value than the other. The piece in the center is just as important as the one on the end. Without each one in place, you end up with a ghastly hole in your perfect picture and so your search for each piece means that much more.

As you put the last piece in and look at your completed work of art, you sigh and appreciate its beauty. What you appreciate more however, is what it took to create that masterpiece. Every single step of the journey was worth it.

“Life is made of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to live, really live…to love the journey, not the destination.” Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life.

Life, is a beautiful, intricate and challenging puzzle. Most of the time, it feels like a mess but there is meaning in the mess. What you’ll find at the end of the journey is that although you’ve reached your destination, it wasn’t ever about the destination to begin with. It was all about how you got there. The “how” is what shaped you, molded you and in the end, freed you.

You are who you are, ready to take on the next puzzle because of the “how.” So next time someone tells you that “It’s all about about the big picture,” remember that it’s actually about those tiny moments and puzzle pieces. The big picture would be nothing without them.


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