terry lige christmas puzzle

The Puzzle of Life

One of the traditions that I often engage in around Christmas/New Years is to put together a puzzle. I like the challenge of beginning a difficult challenge and seeing it through to its completion. My personal development programs are a good example of that kind of project. I took approximately six years to begin the Connections program and complete it to my satisfaction. A Christmas puzzle is usually a project I can complete in a couple of weeks.

This year Christine purchased for me (online of course) a Star Wars puzzle featuring Yoda. Yoda is definitely one of my all time favorite movie characters, so, I was very pleased to watch him come into focus as I puzzled. When I think about puzzles and this one in particular, there are lots of metaphors that come to mind. I have provided a picture of the puzzle to help you see what I see when I look at it.

The first metaphor that comes to mind has to do with Yoda. I have been playfully called Yoda on a number of occasions and have even received a stuffed Yoda doll as a Christmas present. This comparison may have something to do with the fact that I like to quote Yoda (do or do not, there is no try) or that people witness a similar wisdom and intuition in me. Or, they just see me as very old. Yoda was 900 years old when he died. Whatever it is, I very much like to believe that I share some of Yoda’s philosophies of life and am making my best effort to model those truths daily.

A second metaphor has to do with the three missing pieces at the top of the puzzle. I was about two thirds of the way finished this puzzle when I took our Christmas tree down and managed to scatter fake snow all over the table I was puzzling on. Foolishly, I attempted to vacuum around my puzzle to remove the snow and sucked up three on my puzzle pieces. My first thought was, “that’s it, I can’t complete this puzzle, so, I’m going to wrap it up and throw it back in its box.” I said that out loud and Christine challenged me to continue on and finish what I started. That was enough reminder that finishing what I start is very much what puzzling is about for me, so, I went into the garage and attempted to find three puzzle pieces in a bag full of dust and hair…gross. It didn’t take me long to give up on that project and decided to finish the puzzle with three missing pieces. It would have to stand as an imperfect puzzle. I thought about that for a moment and reminded myself that I am an imperfect puzzle. From the time I was three months old I have been losing pieces of me. On that occasion, I lost a part of my large and small intestine and an appendix. Five years ago I had a gall bladder removed. A year and a half ago I had all my upper teeth removed and this past September I had a prostate removed.

Now; I have to admit, there have been some sobering moments in the past year and a half that I have question whether the loss of these body parts have severely diminished me as a healthy, functioning person. At the very least I have endured a crisis of confidence that I am still working through. Once again, Yoda’s wisdom has been helping in this regard. In his words, “luminous beings are we…not this crude matter.” In my words, “who I am mentally, emotionally and spiritually is more important than who I am physically.” As I age, I am definitely diminishing physically; however, mentally, emotionally and spiritually I am getting better daily.

Another metaphor I was reminded of as I puzzled; is that life itself is a puzzle. I do not look at my life chronologically. In other words I do not want to get caught up with time as it marches on one moment at a time, but I want to consider life as a tapestry of differing seasons. One season is a piece of a puzzle that will make much greater sense at the end on my life and I am able to look back and understand more clearly why certain things happened and why they happened when they did. In this way, my life is a mystery and I need to have faith that it is continuing to unfold as it is meant to. I am not entirely sure why I had to battle cancer this past few months, however, I do believe that there were important reasons for it. The fact that I have had four months to contemplate my life, my work and my relationships has been a huge gift to me. I have so much to say in this regard but I will give you one example. I believe I have been given the opportunity to deepen my definition of love. Since my surgery I have had to face the reality that I may never be able to function sexually as I have in the past. At the very least, the process of sexual rehabilitation will take months and possibly years. It is easy for me to see how sex has been a quick solution to expressing love to my partner or reconnecting with her when life’s challenges or busyness pulls us apart. At times it has served as a shortcut to love instead of using the necessary communication to address issues. A deeper understanding of love requires me to look at all the other opportunities to express love in new and meaningful ways. One thing I have been doing since my surgery is to take over all the cooking in our home. It is sex in the kitchen. We enjoy talking about cooking and planning for meals and entertaining the people we love. There is much more to learn and discover in regards to loving one another but it is a season of redefining love.

The last metaphor concerning puzzling has to do with the next season in my work life. As I move into this New Year, both Christine and I are conscious that we want to continue to pursue our sense of purpose together in a way that makes sense and is healthy for both of us individually and as a couple. What to do and how to do it continues to be a puzzle that we have not completely figured out, but, we do know that we need to do some things differently.

As of right now, I am looking at running one program per month and hopefully run the majority of those programs in our home. I would like to find out if we can run a Connections program out of our home in a smaller, more intimate format. A target date for the program would be February 21-23rd.

I would really like to hear from you about what programs you would like to see us run this year. I would welcome any suggestions or feedback. I will begin to communicate regularly about how the calendar is going to look. I will be doing a limited schedule of coaching and counseling, so, if that interests you, please contact me. I am also thinking of running a men’s group soon.

Christine and I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to reach out with words of encouragement and support. I do not think this process could have gone any smoother than it has, but there is no denying the difficulty of going through a season like this. We are heading to Mexico for nine days (Jan. 10-19th) as an opportunity to acknowledge the end of one season and the beginning of another.

Looking forward to hearing from you.



Terry Lige is a Kelowna life coach and the founder & head facilitator of Inside Out Leadership. Experience life-changing breakthroughs in his transformational personal development course

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