Puzzling it Out

imagesSometimes life is like one of those plastic puzzles we used to play with when we were kids. You know the ones I mean. The puzzle is made of small interlocking squares that make up a bigger square and there is just one empty space into which you can move. You must move the squares, one at a time, trying to see ahead, trying to bring sense to the picture as a whole.

This is how my life feels right now. I move a box from here to there. I move a work of art, a toaster, an address book, a bathroom scale. Some squares require extra time. An address book, for example, can’t simply be moved. It must be scoured, page by page, to see if there is any pertinent information there. Works of art have to be photographed, measured, and described. If I am ever going to hope to sell any of Georg’s art, I need to be able to show people what he left. He left a lot.

And so, I take each square as it comes, trying to keep in mind some big picture (that is only vaguely realized) and keep moving my squares. It is a rather linear process: do this, then do this, then do this. But, it also has a circular quality to it, because so much of what I must look through reminds me of another time and place. My childhood, my father’s childhood, his life, my life, the life of our family and all of our friends. I see a circle that starts at point A and comes back around to the same point, but only after passing through many other points along the circumference, gathering memories as it goes.

fish puzzleThis circling can cause unexpected heart smiles (you know that warm feeling, when your heart smiles?) These little bursts of warmth quickly melt into tears, though, especially when I find something in the piles that remains unfinished. Georg was always in process with new works of art. There are backgrounds that did not receive their foregrounds. There are collage pieces waiting to be conjoined with other images and made whole. But, all this will have to remain as it is, a testimony to his artistic process.

In the meantime, I will continue to push my little squares around. I will do one thing at time, minding the lines, minding the circles. Eventually, the circle will evolve into a spiral and instead of coming back to the beginning feeling bereft, I will be at a familiar point that also embodies new possibilities. This is my hope, anyway, and the expectation that at some point, I will eventually see a picture in all this that makes some kind of sense.

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