Puzzles & Pictures, the Past – Oh, My!

Gum Chain Spiral

Summer has been a time of sorting for me. In the process of helping my dad clear out accumulated items of old from my childhood home, I have been inspired to do the same for the space in which my clutter resides. It’s been five years since moving, yet still, stacks of boxes await unpacking. Daily, I am aware of clutter, material goods taking up three dimensional space; but, intrinsically, I know it is a reflection of my mental clutter.  How and when am I to sort through these states of clutter, not only to clear my physical space, but also my mental space, my soul space? How do I make space for me to simply BE?

In efforts to not be wasteful, sorting through material goods can be daunting given all the choices; keepsake, garage sale, e-bay, donate, recycle, trash, hazard waste. How attached am I to things?  What value do they have to me? To others?  I question the idea of storing things in boxes.  If it is of use or interest, use it or display it.  Otherwise, get rid of it and let someone else find value in it.  Living by this notion, I now have my childhood gum chain on display; but why in the world would I want to keep my old gum chain (despite the fact that it is twenty five feet long)?

Nostalgia.  What is it about nostalgia and our attachment to the past? Why do I save things for my (who knows if I will ever have) grandchildren?  Do I hope to relive my past, my children’s past? While at my dad’s, crawling in the basement closet that forms underneath a stairway, I came across an old puzzle.  “The Minnesota puzzle!,” I so joyfully mused.  I have fond memories, sitting at the living room coffee table, piecing together the “Jolly Green Giant,” Paul Bunyan and the golden fields of wheat.  It turns out, there were three of these puzzles.  Where did they all come from? I took two of them home to put together, as they apparently were missing some pieces. Hopefully I could piece together two complete puzzles, for by now, one of my sisters had expressed interest in the puzzle as well.

Incomplete PuzzlesPuzzle.MissingPiece

I had completed both puzzles.  There they stood, side by side, seemingly, identical; but as I looked closer, I could see that the image on one was slightly shifted over.  Even though the cut of each piece was identical, the image was not.  This only became a problem when trying to take a piece from puzzle A to be placed in puzzle B, to form a complete puzzle.  The puzzle appeared complete, but something was not in synch.  A shift had happened. The big picture didn’t line up anymore.
Something's Off

Similarly, we tend to hold onto images and memories from our past, carrying them into our present lives, from one puzzle moment to the next.  We unconsciously hold onto these pictures and reuse them, believing them to be current and relevant.   For example, let’s say as a child you were told you can’t sing, and so you carry that with you into adulthood.  But what if this puzzle piece, this picture doesn’t fit anymore?  What if you can sing?  What if we have changed and so this picture, though comfortable in size or familiarity, doesn’t actually line up anymore with who we are?  Something about the picture, memory, emotion, thought, or belief system is out of sync with who we are in the NOW.

Selenite Spiral


Picture life’s journey not as a circle, but as a spiral.  We may come back around in our awareness, repeating lessons.  Although we are close to where we started, by being a spiral of life, we are not at the same place as once before.  Our life lessons, challenges, accomplishments have shifted us.  We are constantly changing and growing, so the old pictures are simply that – old pictures, old stories.  Should we try to fit them into our current puzzle of life or shall we acknowledge our lessons with gratitude and release these old pictures?  They are just reflections from our past, they are not who we are in the present experience.

Such thoughts have helped me as I sort through years worth of accumulated stuff.  Items of memorabilia, archived photos, letters and journals seem to be most difficult, as they directly document at least one version of the past. In this respect, I am still evaluating such things. Are they worthy of taking up space externally and internally?

And so, I continue my summer sorting.  I embrace the process of clearing the physical space around me, but also my mental and spiritual space within. With every box I clear out of my physical space, I open up more space within my mind.  Conversely, the more space I make for my spirit to be in the present, the more I am able to clear out the physical materials of my past. I will release that which no longer serves me well, while acknowledging with gratitude, the images and memories of the past I am not quite ready to release.   May we all find the right balance for who we are in the present moment as we find pieces in the puzzle of past, present and future awareness.  It is my intention to live fully in the present moment, to be complete in the NOW. In Presence, with all that I AM and all that YOU ARE, may we dance, sing, love, create, express and share the joy that is LIFE itself.

-Amy Laederach


About the Author

Amy Laederach is an energy-based therapist and health advocate, facilitating health & well-being for the body, mind & soul, at Everspring Health in Minneapolis, MN. In her spare time, Amy enjoys writing, photography, art and West Coast Swing Dance.