Life is a fluid puzzle. Every person in our lives is a piece of that puzzle with his or her unique footprint. Each is different in shape and size; yet, collectively they all fit together, interconnecting and binding to create a total and distinctive image. Each person is significant in making the picture whole in its idiosyncratic way. Change a person’s position and a different message is communicated.

At times a piece is lost and a vacancy exists  — destiny and personal choices are at play. Fate intervenes or people decide to exit. The picture must re-form and construct new links and associations.

While the new picture maintains some semblance to the old, it is different – relationships alter, some bind together more strongly, and others become more distant. The picture takes on a different look and point of view. It evolves, sometimes slowly and sometimes unexpectedly and quickly.

The change is dramatic or subtle, but powerful, when a piece is suddenly out of the picture. One change and relationships are reshaped, transformed, or ended as individuals adjust to the loss of their loved one’s personality, talent, values, and perspective. We still remember the piece that was lost and what it brought to the total picture of our lives.

Some pieces disassemble into solitary ones, still uniquely shaped but alone, detached from the entire image. The pattern rearranges and each remaining pieces reshape and reconnect. Sometimes the individual piece reformulates itself through self-reflection, the proximity and influence of others, or the wear and tear of events.

As children, we search for who we are — to find and know ourselves. We seek our identity, how we connect and where we fit. Do we want to be the main focus, sit quietly in the background, or be the distinctive piece that provides emotional and structural meaning?

We create pictures as children of what our lives are going to be. Our dreams and aspirations take form in our minds. That may work out for some, but for many others, the vast majority, the puzzle of their lives has little relationship to the picture they had in their mind as children. Some do not realize that other pieces affect and influence their position, connection, and shape.

Life doesn’t play out like by simply and logically putting puzzle pieces together or creating an engineered flow chart. Logic and reason do not always control direction and impact. Emotions exist. Spontaneity shapes decisions. Other people intervene. Serendipitous events and meetings refigure lives, and certainly unexpected deaths alter relationships and perspectives. Intangible callings direct connections and location.

In these circumstances, the old picture of our lives and wish, that it would remain the same and not be altered by conscious or heart breaking changes. We don’t realize the image is sometimes beyond our control.

The puzzle of life takes different contours and dimensions. While it may have the same elements, it still transforms. Events and time affect connections. Colors evolve, sometimes brighter, other times darker, with shifting boldness and subtlety. Energy shifts and perspective changes. Some of these adjustments emerge slowly, and others explosively and quickly. Light alters the interpretation and impact.

Of course, new pieces are added. Births transform the picture with their distinctive and sometimes quirky shapes and sizes and where and how they fit. New loving relationships do the same thing, in many cases, polishing our edges and modifying outlooks and connections. They also alter the puzzle’s viewpoint, as pieces from the past become a smaller part of the frame, while others grow in size and consequence.

The puzzle of life configures itself mysteriously and dramatically at times. The wonder of it all is life’s beauty and unpredictability; otherwise, life would be trite and boring if our life’s picture were cast in stone.

Life can seem confusing like 350 pieces of an abstract puzzle without a clear final picture. Our lives emerge and are coupled together by our inclinations, decisions, passions, emotions, and relationships, hopefully predicated on clear and honorable values and principles, which can be the glue that keeps the pieces together.