The concept of time has always intrigued me. Now, millions of Near Death Experiencers (NDEers) have added their experiential understanding of time. Their universal insight is that sequential time is an illusion. That in truth, there is only "now," the eternal, present moment. They report, for instance, that an NDE life review doesn't play like a filmstrip from start to finish. Rather, the NDEer is immersed into their entire life, beginning to end, taking in every detail all at once. And they re-live and review not only their own personal history, but the experiences and emotions they created in everyone they've impacted. This leads to lessons learned and an understanding of their life's purpose. Some even recall being immersed in their so-called past and future lives as part of this learning, which, I know, is a mind bender. Anita Moorjani, one of the most studied NDEers ever, likens the individual life to a strand of thread woven into a tapestry of our collective experience. Pull on one thread and you affect the entire tapestry. We are all connected through all time.
Today, these concepts came to me in a different way. I've been wrestling with all of the pieces of my professional life in various states of development - coaching, writing, speaking, mentoring, teaching, among others. When I view them sequentially, it looks like chaotic starts and stops that come and go - coach a client, attend a webinar, fly to Salt Lake City for a coaching conference, walk in the park, write a blog post, read a book, record a podcast, draft another chapter in my book, drive to Scottsdale for a speakers' workshop, practice a video recording, walk on the beach. Viewed on a timeline, I can't even begin to see what all of this adds up to. So I mentally blew up my calendar view and replaced it with a puzzle. Yes, a puzzle. I can wrap my head around a puzzle. And I love puzzles! Maybe it's because my mom loved puzzles (still does, I'm sure!).
Each piece is a unique, persistent, color-coded instance of something I'm moving forward. Each starts in a faint hue and grows deeper and richer in color as I apply myself to it. Related pieces are connected, and around the edge of my puzzle are border pieces connecting, or waiting to be connected, to others' puzzles. When the synergy's right, we hook them up!
Each puzzle piece represents a relationship I'm developing with a mentor coach or author, an article or post I'm writing, a coaching client I'm supporting, a trip I'm planning, a client retreat I'm leading, and countless more initiatives. Impossible to view as a whole on a timeline, they begin to paint a picture when I release sequential time and arrange these pieces on the canvas of my entire life. Instead of having events come and go over time, this persistent view paints a more coherent picture of what I'm creating. This paradigm is also consistent with what I know about my origins - that I designed and planned my life (with tons of help!) long before my birth. Now, I'm constructing it, with freewill by the way. It's just a plan. A well thought out plan, but a plan, nonetheless. This is my journey. If I want to veer off my plan, I'm free to do that, but it's likely to bring more difficult challenges - a topic for another conversation.
From my puzzle perspective, none of this is random and nothing's out of order. While life can seem messy and chaotic in the sequential living of it, it is beautifully orchestrated as a work of living art in the making. Chiseling away at a chunk of granite to expose the sculpture within can look like random hacking for a long time. But every strike of the hammer has a purpose. Every chip flies for a reason. What's required of the sculptor is to start with a rock and keep on chiseling; learn what's possible with the tools, skills and material before them; continually summon their inspiration; and incorporate the cracks and imperfections into the piece as they show up.
I don't know exactly how all of the pieces of my life puzzle will ultimately fit together. Nor do I even know where all of the pieces are yet, or how they may connect with others. But that's the nature of a puzzle. The fun lives in the challenge, knowing there's a solution. That's why we spend billions of dollars a year playing video games. No one enters those virtual worlds believing they're irrational with no solution to its challenges. And no one enters this life without the same understanding. My life has a purpose. I'm living into it. And I'm having fun putting it together.
So here you go!
One more piece in place.