J is for… Jigsaw Puzzles – and filling in the gaps

“It is in the story of your life that you will recognise yourself” – Brendan Myers

Photo by Pablo Nicolás Taibi Cicare (CC) - flickr

Photo by Pablo Nicolás Taibi Cicare (CC) – flickr

We all want to think of our lives as a coherent story. We re-write them again and again, re-shaping them in response to new experience, retcon-ing them around hindsight. We look for the missing puzzle pieces to fill in the gaps.

So we find Paganism, and suddenly we were always Pagan, and grew up in the woods and lived off the land. Even if, technically, we were staunch atheists who loved the city as much as we enjoyed our occasional visits to the countryside. That old woman next door who once showed us her herb garden becomes the witch who taught us ancient healing and magic. Our occasional flicking through books on Wicca is transformed into years of research into the Craft.

Or we find a band, or a type of music, that we love, and suddenly we always loved Garage/R&B/Manic Street Preachers – quickly acquiring their back-catalogue to fill in the missing pieces around that one song of theirs that we quite liked a few years ago, when it came on the radio.

Or we learn something about ourselves that we never knew – that we have a particular talent we never realised before, or we’re gay, or have a certain medical condition, or that the father we never knew was a spy with MI5 – and suddenly we always knew, on some level, and everything that happened was really all about that. 

And sometimes these things are true, or partly true, and we’re recognising something within ourselves that we never had a name for before.

And sometimes there might be a thread of truth to it.

And sometimes it’s an entire fabrication – an excuse – a metaphor.

But it’s the missing puzzle piece. The one we’ve been seeking for a lifetime. So if we have to hack it to bits so that it fits the hole in our soul, that’s what we’re going to do.

The story of my life is important. When I tell it, I need to recognise myself in it. And it needs a beginning, a middle and a now. But I shouldn’t forget that I’m not looking for an end yet. There are more pieces of the puzzle our there that will better fit the gaps.

4 thoughts on “J is for… Jigsaw Puzzles – and filling in the gaps

  1. Yes, we like to live within coherent narratives which allow us to see our lives as having meaning and purpose. Which sometimes means blurring over or ignoring the gaps. However even the gaps are the product of the narrative we are weaving. New world view- some gaps vanish and others appear.

  2. Oh yes. In fact, that aspect of paganism has always made me slightly uncomfortable (as do all other forms of revisionism).

    Having thought about it, the reason for my personal discomfort at the thought of having “always” been a druid is that, to me, intention is a vital part of my spiritual path. At heart, my religious inclinations and experiences have always been authentically mine, but before I encountered druidry, they simply were not druidic; what makes them druidic is the conscious intention to walk a druid path, and explore my spiritual life through the framework of religious druidry.

    There are lots of stories I tell about myself; all of them true, some of them apparently contradictory. Messy and confusing, to be sure, but preferable (I think) to clinging to just one narrative of the self, as I’ve seen others do with some unpleasant consequences.

    I wonder if there always has to be a gap in the story, for mystery or for potential, in the same way that music is defined by silence.

  3. Pingback: O is for… (a rambly post on) Origin Stories | Léithin Cluan

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