Puzzle or Mystery

For the past few weeks I have had a Thomas Merton, quote visible in my office that says "Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a mystery to be lived".  Something about it resonates with me and whenever it catches my eye I give it a little more thought.  My natural tendency is to handle life from the puzzle orientation always working, moving, switching pieces around trying to find that sweet spot.  That can be exhilarating when you find a few pieces that fit together just right, but it can also be quite tiring because the puzzle is never actually finished so you don't allow yourself to relax in the mystery of the moments that have come together just perfectly.  

Lesson Number 1- Napping Dog

There is a restlessness that is inherent in our western culture and I sometimes wonder if it is because we don't have the long history that other parts of the world have.  We still have a new frontier mentality, a settle the west urge.  Does walking on ancient marble steps help you to realize from an early age that you are part of something larger?   What if we approached life more like the dog we had to walk around on our recent journey?  What if we just decided to luxuriate in the moment and allow ourselves to lay down in the middle of everyone else's crazy path to have a mid-day nap?  The utter and complete confidence of the dog and its state of total relaxation was something to witness.  I'm lousy at napping but it's a mystery that I think I want to try living.   

Lesson Number 2 - Tiny Tea

In Istanbul it seemed like everyone stopped to have a tiny cup of tea in a delightfully small glass cup.  Whether we were wandering through the Grand Bazaar or shopping in the carpet merchant's, tea was readily available and in fact it was part of their hospitality to offer you some.  Along the cobble stone street, shops and homes opened onto small stoops that were equipped with miniature tables and stools. As the day wore on, the stools became the perch of grown men visiting with the neighbours, watching the world go by, and sipping tea from the little glasses.  No gigantic lattes, no running into a vendor then jumping into your car to race to the next appointment.  Just a tiny cup of tea, on a little stool, on your own front porch in the company of friends and neighbours.  It's just another mystery, the stools look so uncomfortable even to my little legs but the rest of the concept might be worth experimenting with.  Allow yourself to take a little time to savour life with someone you care about.    

Lesson Number 3 See the Beauty

There are days when life seems more like a gigantic staircase that you have to conquer than a mystery.  Those are the days when you feel like you are at the bottom of the stairs with a very long climb ahead.  What if we agreed that it was okay to stop along the daily climb to look around, viewing our path from a different perspective?  Would we see in those moments unexpected beauty that we would have missed if we just kept our heads down and climbed?  I think so.  Therefore I am going to try stopping periodically to look around, just to make sure I don't miss the mystery.    

Puzzle or Mystery?

When life goes askew you might need a bit of puzzling and bit of mystery.  We had requested a van taxi to take us from the dock to the airport, prebooking it several days in advance and providing our name.  As we disembarked we spotted a driver holding up a sign with a name similar to ours but not exactly right.  There was no other driver with a name exactly right, so we decided he must be ours and claimed him.  The mystery remains as to whether he really was ours.  He had a look of dismay immediately, but no English skills to convey his concern.  We understood his consternation when we saw that he had driven a regular taxi.  It became infinitely more clear as we watched him struggle to try to fit our luggage in. He tried to say he couldn't take us, then he suggested that he take us two at a time.   But we disagreed and shoe horned ourselves in with luggage on our laps.  Poor guy was on his cell phone chattering away in Italian obviously a bit distressed but we were in that cab and not getting out.  There was a plane to catch you know!  About twenty minutes down the road he pulled into a gas station and brightly suggested "cafe?" we declined.  We thought he was trying to get us out of his cab by enticing us to have a coffee so he could ditch us.  He laboriously explained that another driver was going to meet us and take us the rest of the way.  Eventually the other driver showed up in a van and apart from the usual craziness of Rome traffic and a heating system that had only one setting - high - we did get to the airport in time.  The cab experience was a combination of puzzle and mystery.  We puzzled our way through fitting everything in but it will always be a mystery as to whether we took someone else's cab.  I guess that's life.  Part puzzle, part mystery.  The challenge is not to get caught up all the time in the puzzling, sometimes we just need to relax in the mystery.