By Stew Bittman, D.C.
It's been gray and rainy in these parts, which in a way has been a nice break from the yards of snow we were getting before winter's official arrival. It's been nice, too, especially as the holiday season has wound down, because it has given us the excuse to stay inside a bit more (it's difficult not feeling guilty trying to ignore my dog's plaintive face when the sun is shining). We don't get too much of this, what I call jigsaw puzzle weather. We've had time to sit with our intentions and goals and promotions for the new year. We've been playing a lot with one of Ari's holiday gifts (I always get her stuff that I liked when I was a kid!), and recovering from all that fun and relaxation we just endured in Hawaii. Our trip was perfect, and thru the realization it brought (no "ughs this year!) of the importance of friendship, I feel as if I've been gifted with another wonderful piece. Do you know what I mean?
Life to me lately seems to come in pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle. Every experience, every person, every issue, every voice within us, every moment, is a piece. And God has the box with the big picture on it, while all our senses provide us with are pieces. And from these pieces, one or two or two million for that matter, our brains generally think they know the whole picture. We'd do great on that old show "Concentration", but it doesn't work well in life. Our assumptions and anal-yses and judgments based on far less than the big picture cause nothing but trouble, and yet on we go thinking we have all the pieces. We don't.
I've done lots of jigsaw puzzles, and I've noticed that some of the pieces invariably end up on the floor or stuck in the corners of the box. Some we never find. Among the ones we do, there's always some that are easy to find and others that we search for hours. There's always some that seem to go directly to where they fit and others we tend to try to force in where they don't really go. There's always some that contain clear images of part of the picture and others that appear to contain no new information until they are placed in the framework of others. My, when I began this jigsaw puzzle metaphor I had no idea how representative of life they are! While we're at it, never do I look at a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and throw it away, or bury it, or react emotionally to it, or get attached to it!
Sometimes I have to put one aside temporarily, and see where it fits later. Yet I never feel guilty about doing that, nor do I worry about it not fitting. I realize that every single piece is part of the big picture, and that it definitely fits in somewhere. And I also realize that as more and more pieces come together, it gets easier to fit new ones in. I rarely look at the pieces of my life that way. I should. I would suffer far less.
When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I've found that it works best to look at the whole picture first, and THEN see how an individual piece fits. Usually in life, we create an imaginary big picture from a piece. That's what these brains do best. Invariably my imaginary big picture is different from yours. How could it not be? Yet I assume yours should be the same as mine, and I'll even defend mine, try to get you to change yours, and get pissed off if you don't. And you do the same thing. We expend loads of energy attempting to manipulate every piece we encounter into our private hallucinations, and due to the sheer futility of this endeavor we experience moments of utter despair, raging anger, and stark loneliness. Man we're nuts.
Most of us have discovered that the only answer to this madness is the spiritual life. What would life be like if we considered all its many pieces against a framework of the big picture? The big picture of wholeness and connection and love? The big picture of Innate? Of God? What if our first thot concerning any event was that it is a piece, not good or bad, and that it fits somewhere as part of the perfect whole? Beyond that, what if we realized that we have actually created or attracted this very piece, in order to realize more of that whole? What if our every thot and action was toward the whole and not the piece, toward connection and not separation, toward love and not fear? Jim Parker used to tell us to "act with love, react with faith." Sigafoose reminds us to "walk by faith, not by sight." Aren't they saying the same thing?
Does any of this apply to chiropractic? First of all, what doesn't? Every day in my office, I am confronted with pieces. Symptoms, opinions, personalities, histories, questions, procedures, etc. I was trained to assemble, from this soup of pieces, big pictures called diagnoses and treatment plans and prognoses and reports and the like. And it's not hard to do. Unfortunately it doesn't mean much, and God knows if our assemblage bears any resemblance to reality, especially after we've conveniently ignored or discarded or masked any of the pieces that didn't fit. Our philosophy dictates a more jigsaw puzzle way of looking at things. Start with the big picture (Innate, the Major Premise, the rest of the Principles, etc.), and see where the pieces fit within that framework. It's all perfect. I don't have to change a piece, or fix it, or mask it, I simply have to remove interference to allow that piece to fit more easily and beautifully into the whole. This is harder to do. It requires faith. It requires me to forget my programmed tendencies. Yet every time my focus and intent are on the big picture, the world heals. All the pieces simply bring me peace. Peace.