The big picture

Imagine that life is a jigsaw puzzle and people are hiding inside of tiny little echo chambers, clutching single pieces of it inside of their sweaty, clenched fists, and creating their own unique versions of reality based upon nothing but sheer speculation about their meanings.

Let’s suppose, for illustrative purposes, that the finished puzzle is a photograph of a bustling city street, but most people don’t know or won’t acknowledge that. In the bottom left corner, there’s a yellow car, a taxicab, parked on the side of the street.

One person, holding a puzzle piece that’s completely yellow, and obviously a part of the image of the car’s body, has come up with some imaginary theory as to what it’s supposed to be. Another person with a corresponding all-yellow piece has an entirely different theory, also imaginary. With mouths wide open and fingers in ears, these two people will bicker endlessly over who is right, stubbornly clinging to their respective versions of the truth, neither of which is complete or accurate.

Yet another person has a piece of the taxi containing the letter “x” in red. It’s part of the sign on top. He thinks the other two piece holders are complete idiots. “Life isn’t yellow at all,” he says, astonished at their stupidity. “It’s a red X. Can’t you see that?”

The yellows hate each other and they both hate red X. Red X hates both yellows, and he also hates that idiot in the adjoining echo chamber who won’t stop screaming that life is all about “I.”

If never occurs to them to climb out of their pods and try to place the pieces together to see if they fit. There’s no need. Yellow is all there is. Red X is all there is. Red I is all there is. Why even stop to consider another’s point of view?

Now, stand up and take a step back from the table atop which this scattered jumble of puzzle pieces sits.

You can see everything now, every piece. A clearer image begins to form. That blue piece you thought was everything? It’s just part of the sky, and it coexists with all of the other pieces in a way that makes perfect sense. You thought your neighbor insane because he claimed there was something white and puffy in the blue, but now you realize that what he’s been seeing is part of a cloud. Your sky piece doesn’t have a cloud, so you’ve believed, all this time, that there is no such thing as a cloud piece. There was only blue, and you never considered the possibility that anything else existed. Now, though, you see it. Your sky piece is just as much a part of reality as his cloud piece.

What you see now is a rich tapestry of new(to you)colors and shapes that all combine to form a single picture.

Sadly, few people step back from the table for a full view; they’re content to sit in their echo chambers, banging on the walls and hoarding their single, simple pieces, broadcasting their extremely small-minded viewpoints to a bunch of other people who are doing the exact same thing, and no one hears anyone else. No one is listening.



  1. Idk, They don’t appeal to me. Some people find them very satisfying. I can understand the appeal, I just don’t like things with fixed endings, I guess. Plus I doubt I could put one together very easily. I don’t have that kind of organizational brain. But I recognize that others do and say “hey that’s awesome that that makes you happy,” instead of just being like “Pshhht, puzzles are stupid.” Because they’re not stupid, they just aren’t for me.

  2. This is just like, people thinking that their tiny little corner of the universe is the be-all end-all of everything. You see it in people’s eyes, the self-righteous conviction, often about trivial things, their opinions formed on hearsay or emotion. They think they’ve got it all figured out and they’re going to tell everyone else how to do things.

  3. Or when certain ideologies are decided by some society to be the default; they aren’t necessarily right, they’re only right because a bunch of people currently say they are. Conventional wisdom is often “wrong” a few generations later when we “know better.” But we really don’t, we’re just trying stuff out like “Ok, this is it, this is the absolute truth, the way things should be!” Which of course is tomorrow’s absolute bullshit.

  4. This reminds me a lot of Flatland. If you haven’t read that, you might enjoy it. It’s about a bunch of two-dimensional geometric shapes arguing about the nature of their world, and then one of them ends up discovering what the third dimension is.

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