“As we experience the missing pieces during this pandemic, we need to challenge ourselves to not let them become what we focus on.”

Like many of you, we have been doing a puzzle in our house during the MCO and CMCO. I am personally not a puzzle person, but from time to time in the history of our family, we have done a puzzle. The main reason I do not like doing puzzles is that I can’t imagine putting that much work into something that you will then just simply take apart and put back into a box. 

A couple of summers ago when I was with my kids back in the U.S., we decided to do a puzzle that took a couple weeks to finish. Or at least sort of finished. The problem was that when we came down to the last few pieces of the puzzle we realized that one piece was missing. We looked high and low for it over a couple of days but ultimately never found the missing piece. The puzzle would not ever be fully completed, and though it was only one of a thousand, that missing piece was instantly noticed by anyone who looked at the puzzle. You couldn’t help but notice the gap when you looked at the puzzle and it left us with a sense of disappointment.

The reason I am talking about puzzles, and particularly that missing puzzle piece, is that I think one of the harder aspects of the pandemic is that we are missing things that used to be a part of our day-to-day life. In many cases these are little things. Things that were part of the thousands of pieces that made up daily living. For me some of the missing pieces are

  • Students and parents arriving on campus at the beginning of the day.
  • Sports – watching and playing.
  • Going to a movie with a friend.
  • Shaking someone’s hand.
  • Going to an event that draws a crowd.
  • Chocolate chips from the grocery store.
  • Freedom to go where I want and for whatever reason I want.
  • Seeing people smile at me (hard to see smiles through a mask).

Our problem is that, like the missing puzzle piece, we can’t help but notice the things we are missing now and they leave us with a sense of disappointment. What we are missing has become our focus.

See, the problem with that puzzle a couple summers ago, was that the missing piece became my focus and I overlooked all the other pieces that made up the puzzle. Sure I was disappointed in not being able to complete it, but I forgot about all the conversations our family had with each other while working on the puzzle. I forgot the joy we each experienced when we figured out where a certain piece went. I forgot about the shared moments we had together because of all those other pieces.

As we experience the missing pieces during this pandemic, we need to challenge ourselves to not let them become what we focus on, but that we’ll remember to see the rest of the puzzle, all those other pieces that are a part of this journey. The conversations, the joys, the shared experiences, the moments of community. If we succeed in doing this the missing pieces will stop being the focus and actually they will become a part of the story that is our current puzzle.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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