o, my wingman started a jigsaw puzzle on Friday.
It was a present. One he received following a significant birthday this week. The recent turning of the clock ticking over the emergence of his new age. When you turn seven, doors to growing up seem to continually open. He can now legally shot-gun for the front seat. He can step up into the land of 7-12 yr lego. He tells me when he grows up that he wants to play for the Cats and he knows that if he promises to wear a mouthguard and helmet, next year he can start playing junior football.
It was Aristotle who said “give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man” so it is with great interest that recently, I’ve been watching my youngest lad. I see him navigate stepping up to and into his manhood. Practicing air guitar on his light saber while he stage dives. Self-commentary of his greatness as he marks on the trampoline. He walks around to a different beat to his sisters and even though he knows he will never catch them, I watch him chase after the accolades of their age.
It was last Friday, just before school, that my wingman started his Star-Wars jigsaw puzzle. I was making everyone’s breakfast as I heard him tip it all out on the lounge-room floor. “This piece goes here, good. And this piece goes here, yes…..” he coached himself along solo as he does through so many stages of his journey. Until quietly, the self-commentary of his greatness stopped. A moment of silence was broken by his wordless sigh. Shifting quickly into wordless groans as he stared at the floor. I heard his sounds formulate into vowels of frustration and syllables of anger. Until he yelled, “Mum! This stupid puzzle is broken and the pieces don’t fit anymore!”
It was my lover who stepped up to and into my wingman’s manhood. The intimacy of watching my lads connect as father and child makes me ache with longing to hold them both in the moment forever. My wingman watched in awe as his dad ran his own self-commentary of greatness. Claiming that he himself was a jedi-master of jigsaw puzzles and that he had been doing them his whole life. He spoke of the many years of practice and the many hours of training to perfect his jedi puzzle technique. My lover sat down next to my son, sprawling their testosterone-clad words of greatness all over the floor, and he promised to share his jigsaw secrets.
“The trick with a jigsaw puzzle is to find all the corners. Find the flat bits and with them make the periphery. When you have built all the borders of the picture from the outside, it makes it easier to start seeing what your looking for. Then start working in.”
Think standing sequences, side openers and bandha.
Sometimes it can be hard to solve the puzzle as we sit right before it. We can see some of the smaller parts of the picture, but it can be hard to make out any context of the whole. Some pieces will come and connect together smoothly. Especially if it’s something that we recognise or something that we know well. Faces, fingers, feet. While other pieces will need more concentration and they will require much more effort. There may be a strategy that we need to learn how to use, or to allow us to move past something that we think we have recognised but doesn’t work. To create the shades of the sky or the tones of the earth. Ultimately puzzles ask us to seek out, interpret and construct smaller pieces to eventually create a full picture. One which can represent images and places within the construct of our understanding of the manifest world.
When pieces of the puzzle don’t fit as we would expect them to or the way that we would like them too, the easiest thing to do is to pull back and call the jigsaw stupid. This gives us permission to step back from hard things and label them a waste of time. It gives us an exit to move away from things that are uncomfortable and claim them as not worth our effort. Yet if we persist patiently, if we work mindfully, maybe we can create something as it manifests true for ourselves. Fleshing out the corners and the borders to work towards the centre of the whole.
On Friday morning, I watched my lover and my wingman fit the pieces of a Star Wars jigsaw puzzle together. It felt odd to be on the outside of their connection, to see them create a space for lads alone. They worked together from the puzzle periphery until eventually Darth Vader’s head was formed. I watched my lover mould and shape my wingman into being a true man of his own. Providing a periphery lattice framework of loyalty and of strength and of trust.
On Saturday, when things became tricky with making lego Obi-Wan, my wingman called out to me again. Only this time, he asked me for my help. He said there was a part that he was finding tricky. He couldn’t make out the instructions and he couldn’t make the pieces fit. I answered that of course I would love to help him. Whether he be the child of seven or a grown man steering his course through his manifest world, I would love to help him. But he didn’t need me. This time, he put the piece of the puzzle in by himself. All I had to do was stand a little behind him. So I told my wingman – as I watched him start to fly away even further than he ever had before – with all of his potential and all of his luck and across all the courses throughout his journey, that I will always stand behind him.
So that he truly knows, in his deepest space his heart, that I always will.