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How Many People Know Pieces Of The Puzzle That Are You?

Updated on September 8, 2009

The first time I saw the documentary Grey Gardens was about two years ago or so. I joined it all ready about five or ten minutes in progress but I remember not being able to look away from the television screen the entire time it was on. And after the film was over I sat there alone in my home, not speaking, not moving, not watching any more television, just sitting there…thinking. The existence of the Beales couldn’t be any further from me or anything I’ve ever experienced but there was something about these wonderfully damaged people living in squalor that made me begin to reflect on my own life. So the other morning when I turned on the television and caught the last twenty minutes of the HBO movie Grey Gardens starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, I found that odd sense of inward reflection starting all over again. It stayed with me as I went to get my coffee and as the women behind the Starbucks counter greeted me I began to wonder, how many people know pieces of the puzzle that are you? – Don’t Get Me Started!

Try to follow me for a moment. When you watch Grey Gardens you see a mother and daughter who seem to know everything about one another. Using one another’s weaknesses to bind them together and at the same time using one another strengths to lean on one another you realize that although you would think that they knew everything about one another and one couldn’t exist without the other, when Edie Sr. passed away, Edie Jr. began a life of performing cabaret acts, travel and moved on from Grey Gardens (something that when you watch either movie, you think would be completely impossible for her). So although the two women were inextricably connected there had to be some things that even these women didn’t know about one another. Whether it was dreams or fears, who knows but that’s when I began to think about the simple pieces of my life that certain people know about and others do not. The women at Starbucks know exactly how I like my coffee and yet my partner of twenty-one years would have no idea. It’s a small thing but once you start in this vein of thinking, I think you’ll be surprised to find out just how complex you are and how interesting it is that you share certain pieces of the puzzle that is you with certain people but only you can see the picture that is on the front of the box, the whole puzzle that creates the picture that is you.

I wasn’t a puzzle fanatic when I was little but I did my fair share of puzzles. I remember that some people built the puzzle from the outside in and others started on major portions or pictures at the center of the puzzle and then built the puzzle from the inside out. I would assemble all of the outside pieces and then carefully studying the box top (which I would prop up so that I could see it better) I would begin to construct the inside, the picture within the frame so to speak. The older I get I realize that I’ve continued on that same path in my life too. I have always constructed who I wanted to be from the outside in and when I did theatre I did the same thing. I worked on the character’s physicality before I thought about the emotional state of the character (perhaps this is why I’m not a big name today in theatre). The interesting part to me is that I don’t think I’ll ever achieve the picture that I want to see on the box top of the puzzle that is my life and even though it may look to others as though I have the puzzle put together perfectly, to me there will always be a few pieces that don’t fit quite right or have an edge peeled up a bit.

Maybe like most things in my life, I’ve taken this puzzle analogy too far. But what I wanted to do was to intrigue you to think about the different parts of your life (puzzle pieces) you share with certain people and not with others. The people at work see one side of you but you may not share it all (nor should you probably). The same goes with friends, right? I mean just like I’m learning to separate certain people from certain information on Facebook, the same can be said of my life. I have the friends who are strictly fluff, they’re the ones I go out with and we laugh and laugh and laugh and then I have the friends with whom I share deep life thoughts with and still there is another group of acquaintances that I see at other friends’ events and we’re cordial but they see only a very small portion of me. You can say the same of certain family members or the dry cleaner for that matter. Think about all the different people you come in contact with and the different pieces of the puzzle that are you that they know or hold onto. Maybe that’s why life is so precious? Because no matter how well you know someone, you don’t know everything about them. You can’t hold someone else’s puzzle box with all the pieces in it just waiting to be reassembled; they take at least a few pieces of their puzzle with them to the grave. And so true do we take the pieces of the person’s puzzle we know and we carry them with us like precious trinkets we collected when we were kids, a collection that may seem like junk in an old cigar box to someone else but to us, they are glorious treasures in a treasure box. How Many People Know Pieces Of The Puzzle That Are You? – Don’t Get Me Started!

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