paso por paso (or, instructions for the puzzle of life)

Puzzle 1

Clear a large space.

Establish boundaries (cat optional).

Start with the sharp edges and work inward.

Take it one step at a time; build frameworks where possible.

Follow your first impulses/impressions.

Smile between the furrows. (This is supposed to be fun.)

Others will be inspired by you and will sometimes want to sit with you and your endeavors. Savor the companionship.

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Simultaneously work on random patches and patterns. They will gradually begin to make sense and fit in.

When you’re in the midst of the mess, go make a sandwich.

Consult the big picture often.

Study each detail: the shape, shadow, grain, texture, color, depth (cat teeth marks).


Vary your attention regularly between the big picture and the small details.

Try many things, and be willing to make many mistakes. You will come frustratingly close many times, and be wrong.

Admit the mistakes. Be willing to work backward to undo them.

You will be overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the task. Become comfortable with a certain level of chaos.

You can’t keep putting everything away in its neat, tidy place. Sometimes you have to lay it all out on the table for all to see, for you to face.


Have faith that you will find everything you need.

If you do not find everything you need, have faith that you will be able to improvise.

Sometimes you have to stop looking for something in order to find it.

Deeply study the empty places to determine how they need to be filled.


Each new day will bring renewed perspective, light, focus, and energy.


Turn your thinking on its head. Keep rearranging.

Revel in the satisfaction of the right fit, of each small piece clicking into place.

Drink lots of coffee.


Welcome help along the way; others bring unique perspectives and often see things we’ve missed right in front of our eyes.


Develop a love of quiet simplicity.

Be prepared to spend many hours alone.

Accept that you’re going to hit a wall sometimes. Find a way over, under, around, or through – or wait it out. Walls (we) have a way of shifting.

Breathe and be present. Feel each piece in your hand and dwell with it.


Embrace the paradoxes. Find humor in them.

Everything is an experience. Everything is a writing opportunity.

If you’re stuck in one area, move to another. There are endless areas in need of attention.

Do the work consistently, and sit back and enjoy the transformation.


Take the time to celebrate the triumphs.

Then, be willing to let go, dismantle every piece, and start again.


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