Placing The PiecesPosted: January 25, 2010
“I am looking at you,
You at him,
Kabir asks, how to solve
You, he, and I?”
Like the above picture, I feel like a puzzle. Not in the sense that I am a complex person (I am not a simple one, either), but rather that unlike Mr. Puzzle Man up top, I am not whole. “Wholeness” meaning there are some things still left undone. Pieces to place. I feel like I am almost there.
It has been quite some time since I began or completed a puzzle (unless Legos count), but I remember getting in that “zone” as a child, where my total focus was on putting the pieces together. I built my frame and then went to work on the middle, pushing towards the center. An accurate view of my post-college life.
Broadly I view my life as a bunch of puzzles. A series, building to an image still hard to make out. Visually I imagine boxes of puzzles representing different parts of your development. So maybe birth to toddler years, the elementary years, middle school (if you had it) through high school, and then college, and on (law school and my early 20’s). However it is you view your life in retrospect, starting from today.
In any event, I’m not writing to lament about what I have NOT done, but rather to share my love of the process–in trying to get “there” (this being entirely subjective to the person). To love the inevitable bumps in the road, the set-backs, and re-adjustments that life throws at you. This is not a recent development. Looking back on my life I have always been a planner–not the Type-A, exact detail planner–more generalized, and with bullet points. I knew goals were best achieved by steps. Things more often than not had to occur a certain way. And I had an appreciation–begrudgingly so–for it.
It was only during law school (age 23 to 25), where I believe my professional self was refined, that I fell in love with the process of getting there. This was largely due to gaining a solid sense of direction… which was a result of my continued maturity and developing a deep understanding of my own capabilities. Also, I cannot discount that effect of being exposed to people that were “there” and establishing relationships with them. They can offer the prospective of someone who has made mistakes, who has had uncontrollable set-backs–most likely ones similar to you–and made it. This is especially so when we tackle those critical life or career objectives.
Here’s a personal anecdote:
During October of 2008 I learned that I had not passed the Texas bar. For anyone who has taken any bar exam, or known someone who has, the process to prepare was not what I would call fun. Still it was necessary, and when I got negative results I was understandably disappointed. I had reached a major road block, and I was down.
Nothing my parents said could shake the feeling of failure in my mind. The previous spring I had began developing a relationship with an attorney, a partner at a large law firm in Austin, whose practice area I wished to enter. He knew I had taken the bar, and the results were public, so there was no use in hiding. I emailed him to share the news, and within the hour I got an unexpected response.
In short–he stated that he understood what I was going through, and that he had also not passed the first time around. Almost immediately I felt the feelings I had been carrying dissipate, replaced with a renewed drive. This was not the end of the road. I would push on.
Placing the pieces
True love, as I have been fortunate enough to see first hand, takes commitment, patience, and understanding. The same applies with your own life and the process of getting where you want to go. With the latter element–understanding–especially. It is an understanding not only that all things do not come when we desire them to, but that the experiences that drive us to our goals are in and of themselves what the process is about.
Put another way: it is the journey, not the conclusion that should be relished. Because once you reach the end, all you will have are the memories–good and bad. And time has a way of merging both into experience.
Learn to love the process, and the rest with fall into place.