“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy”  – Anne Frank

I met a few friends in up-and-coming Hayes Valley last Saturday to venture over to the 160th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  We got a quick brunch and started walking over to Civic Center, when I saw this beautiful wall across from Patricia’s Green.  I made everyone stop for a few seconds to snap a quick photo and figure out what BRIG HTERFA STER meant. (Yes, It really did take me a few seconds).  The mural brightened up both the parking lot and my day.

When I returned to the intarwebz, I discovered that what I had assumed was run-of-the mill street graffiti by some kid was actually the work of Ben Eine, a London-based artist who has been working with Banksy for years.  This work, Brighter Faster, was just put up last week, and he has been covering the rest of the city in letters and happy faces too.  See the rest of his work in San Francisco and an entertaining interview here.

This is a story about puzzles

All my life I have been searching for my puzzle piece.  Puzzle piece.  That exact match that could be perfectly similar and diametrically opposite in such a way that its crooked arm would interlock completely flush with my whatever element of a puzzle receives a crooked arm.

It has taken me a long time, a recent heartbreak, and years of peeling and cramming of crooked arms to realize the following:

If I had found my puzzle piece, it would just be us two… two perfect puzzle pieces.. interlocked with each other completely flush, but  detached from the rest of the pieces in the box.  Three of my sides would still be empty, and depending on the piece, maybe even three of his. Now, it’s easy to be excited about finding this one particular piece that matches yours, out of ALL of the pieces in the box.  That excitement can take over…even distracting you long enough that you forget about working on the rest of the puzzle altogether.  Without other pieces, the puzzle can sit there longer than it should, untouched…unbuilt, until eventually, someone sadly puts it away and gives up.

Everyone knows this approach does not work.  Everyone knows that the most successful way to complete a puzzle is to start with the edges, the pieces with identifiable markings, the easiest ones.  You continue searching and interlocking, until the rest of the pieces all fit so perfectly together, leaving just enough room so that the only two places left to fill, are together.  The order of this may change, but never the outcome.  You will have a complete puzzle.

I received this fortune at PF Chang’s a couple of months ago.  I misread its meaning at the time, but now it could  not be more clear.  I will never have a complete puzzle if I am only trying to put together two pieces.  If I ever want to complete ALL of my sides, I have to find the other pieces. I have to put together the entire puzzle, remembering that each piece that matches the three other sides is just as exciting and amazing as the one with the crooked arm.

And so I am.  I will be searching to put together the rest of the puzzle and blogging about the random stuff I see and do to get there.   This obligatory intro post is quite heavy, but I know I will learn something.  I hope you do too.