Don’t Solve the Jigsaw Puzzle Alone

Life is always full of change. Those who know me well are aware of how difficult it is for me to deal with lots of change at once. Over the years, I have learned to solve problems and issues one step at a time – after all, it is the easiest way to figure things out or at least that’s how it seems to me. Even within a magickal aspect of life, it is easier to figure out the lay of the land and then go from there. Sometimes, it means starting over – even when you didn’t intend for that to happen.

For me, the first place to start in working through change is to get everything laid out before you. Not solving it but trying to figure out what needs to be taken care of first and what depends on something else to be done before it can be tackled. A lot of this process means bringing things to a complete stop and setting everything out in front of you. Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. The way I tend to approach that is to find all the border pieces first, and then build that. After that, I try to sort the rest of the pieces into colors and details that I can figure out on the box until I have distinct piles for each area. Typically, I also have a pile of “unknown” pieces, which could fit anywhere in the puzzle. Then I pick a section and work on that from the border towards the inside until I get stuck. Then I move to a different area and keep working through things until I get it put together. I use a very similar approach to dealing with many changes all at once.

Here’s the bad part to all that process. In doing all of that, I have a great tendency to draw into myself. Trying to figure things out the best that I can, so I can move forward. I have been working this process for so long, I am used to relying on myself to get things figured out. Very rarely do I go to others for help. And that’s a problem. See, it winds up pushing people away when they want to help the most. Many people do not always understand when that happens, and they only see you withdrawing into yourself. What makes it even worse, is that it is also a self-defense mechanism of mine, so I am quite used to the idea of utilizing it when I feel I need to protect myself. It is a definite habit. And one that I was not really all that aware of until a few days ago.

There has been a lot of change in my life over the last few weeks. Enough that I don’t feel as protected and sure of the ground beneath my feet, as I should. That’s not saying that there is not a solid foundation beneath me or that I am not at all protected, because both of those are true. There is a solid foundation, there is protection….it is just not the same as what I have been used to. Trying to get myself accustomed to this different feeling is rough at times because it is not familiar to me, yet. Plus, there are quite a few other issues that are making me feel vulnerable and weak – which also make me feel that things are unstable and unsure.

So, it became time to set all the pieces out before me and look through them one by one. I needed to determine which pieces could be dealt with right away and which were dependent on others. After that, came the need to prioritize what needed to be done against what could be done, as well as figuring out where I needed to ask for help. Then there were the things that had dependencies laid upon them. After figuring that out, it was a matter of where and when to start…the answer was…today (Monday as I write this).

Now, there are parts of all this that look nothing like I wanted Life to be. In a manner of speaking, it felt like a hard, driving rain had fallen over me and I could see no further than a foot in front of my face. What this perspective really is, is my brain looking for the absolutely worst possible scenario to whatever I am trying to do. Just looking for the other shoe to drop. Except there never was a first shoe. Much of this type of thinking was reinforced during my days working in Risk Mitigation and Disaster Recovery. Always look for the worst possible thing to happen. When it doesn’t, everything is better than you thought. That works in the Risk Mitigation perspective, but it is a horrible way to go through Life. You wind up seeing the worst in everything and you miss the beauty of the moment. I know, I’ve been there very, very recently.

Remember the jigsaw puzzle? Well, realize this – once you finish putting all the pieces together, you’ll have a beautiful picture that you worked hard to assemble. There’s beauty in what you are seeing. There’s beauty and accomplishment in putting it together. Yes, it was in pieces in front of you before you started. But you got organized, got it together, worked hard on it, and put it back together. Look through that process and you will see where joy and beauty can be found throughout. That’s the secret to getting things done. Sure, some of it is unpleasant, difficult, and just not what you would like to do. But you managed to get through it and come out the other side with that feeling of accomplishment and joy.

One last thought. When you are trying to put all of this together….avoid the trap that I climb into all the time: thinking you have to do it all by yourself. Even if all the work must be done by you, there are those in your Life who want to be standing by your side throughout all of it. They want to be there to offer you advice, encouragement, and support. Don’t curl up inside of yourself and cut them off, just to spare them some concept of difficulty. Don’t assume that you know how they are going to react to anything. Let them in. Let them be a part of all of it, even if all they can do is cheer you on. Remember, these people love you. They wouldn’t be a part of your life¬†otherwise.

–T /|\

Photo by Sharon Snider on

Doing the COVID19 Ramble

So what to write about? Its another weekend and the keyboard and I are staring at one another. I honestly thought that this was the keyboard’s weekend to figure out a topic, but I guess not. So, I will spend the majority of the day, cheering on the blinking cursor on the screen. Sooner or later, that damn thing has got to win. What exactly, I’m not sure. Sort of like the pod-races, I’m at a loss to totally understand the rules. but I’ll watch….because its shelter-in-place and I am looking for some excitement.

How about we ramble on for a bit? It worked for Led Zeppelin…

So, while I was sitting here, the movie “The Martian” was playing on the television. Its a movie I enjoy quite a bit because its about improvising. Astronaut Mark Watney improvises to stay alive on the planet Mars with very little foodstuffs available to him. At the end of the movie, the character makes the following observation to a class of Astronaut candidates in a classroom.

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

The quote, for me, is an interesting to recognize in this particular time frame. Currently, we are fighting a global virus that has the capacity to kill its victims within five days. Our medical professions are struggling to keep people alive, while research professions are solving the problems to find a vaccine and/or cure. Let’s leave the politicians out of this for the moment. Let’s realize that the quote from the movie is actually an accurate depiction of where we are right now. We are trying to solve the problem of staying alive. To do that, we are solving smaller problems – medical supply issues, shelter-in-place orders, personal masks made of whatever materials we can find, staying away from each other – each one of those is a potential solution to slow the spread of COVID19. That’s right its not meant to stop the virus, only slow it down. The slower infection spread will keep our medical facilities from being completely overwhelmed – even as this has happened in various places. The point is that we, as a collective species, are trying to find the solutions. At least for the most part.

Now we can bring the politics into play. We’ve got a knucklehead President, here in the United States, who cannot fathom the problem – even when his own hand-picked advisors are telling it to his face in the middle of a press conference. He makes suggestions for people to inject themselves with disinfectants to “cure” themselves of COVID19 (don’t even think about doing this, people), as well as promoting drugs that are meant to manage other diseases are cures for this one (proven to be ineffective by several studies). Instead of being a helpful part of the solution, this President becomes part of the hurdles and obstacles that have to be overcome. And I haven’t even mentioned his idiotic statements concerning the delivery of supplies to some of the hardest hit areas in the United States. Add to that, people that are protesting the state governments to re-open now, so that they can go shopping again. Brazenly holding up protest signs that proclaim that the virus only targets the weak. It doesn’t; though, individuals with pre-existing conditions, the elderly, and those with weaker immune systems are at greatest risk of death from contracting the virus. But let’s consider this more of an obstacle to get around than part of the problem.

Now, I’m not a scientist. Nor am I part of the medical professions. I have friends that are part of both. I am a researcher, but not the right kind. All I can do is step back, and let these people solve those problems. I can take precautions for myself though. I am a diabetic (Type-II), I have an immune system that has been weakened recently (within the last two years) by a bout of pneumonia, as well as a diabetic seizure related to extremely high blood glucose levels. I stay in the house as much as I can. I only get out to get groceries, and even then I order through the app and do a pickup – rather than shopping in the store. Its become an issue of grocery lottery. I never get everything that I put on my list. There is always something that is out. I deal with it. I make due with what I have on hand. I improvise. For nearly a week, I wiped my ass with Kleenex because there was no toilet paper to be had anywhere nearby. And I sure as the Nine Hells was not going to go on a search-and-destroy mission to find some. The last grocery runs have yielded good old butt paper, so the world has started rotating on its axis in a proper manner. When I am out and about, I wear one of the three masks that Shadow made for me. I know its not 100% effective, but its better than going around without one. When I am out and about – I stay away from everyone. I keep my distance. Why? Because I know my immune system sucks. I don’t want to catch this. And I sure as the Nine Hells don’t want to be in a hospital or die. I have enough to live for in my life.

Yeah, its not really doing the math and solving the problems, right? Or is it? I know that my immune system can provide a path for this virus to enter my body and fuck me up good. I stay away from people. I calculated the odds of staying away from people versus interacting with every schmoe I met on the street. I choose the method with the safer odds. I stay in the house instead of running all over town. Why? Because I calculated the odds that it is safer for me to be in the house. I wear a mask? Why? Because Shadow made them specifically for me. She wants me to be safer than I am without them. And I wear them because it lessens the odds of me catching the virus when I do have to be out in public. I am doing the math. I am solving the problems. And hopefully when all of this final settles down and the virus can be held at bay for a huge majority of the planet’s populace – I get to live. Because I do want to live.

My meditations with my Gods have shown me that this is the Storm that I have feared. Not the unraveling of a capitalistic “empire”. I still have faith in what the United States will do going forward, and faith that the Constitution will provide the pathway for that to take place. I have faith that American voters will change that tide, by coming out in larger and larger numbers. No, the Storm is here and its COVID19. How we weather the Storm will be up to each and every one of us. We cannot come together in manners that we know and understand. Rather, we have to rally around one another from a distance, and help each other to be strong through these times. That’s what our larger Pagan community should be about, and what our smaller, local communities, and “tribal” groups should be doing now. Helping one another, being there, supporting each other. Your friend can’t get out for groceries? Email them and ask for a list. Go and get it for them. Have them order the items on an app, get a delivery time and place from them – and get it for them. We can be innovative in this time of need for others. Even if we can’t give them the hugs we all so richly deserve.

–T /|\