I’m puzzled by life

My son got a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, and one of the things he bought was a Beatles White Album jigsaw puzzle. It’s pretty cool…500 pieces, and on one side, if you’re a real masochist, you can try to piece together the cover of the album. If you’re like most normal people, you will try to put together the side that has all four sides of the LP.  Still, that’s no easy task. As you can imagine, my son got bored with it pretty quickly, so I decided to take on the project myself.

It was pretty easy at first, piecing together the labels. I already knew the songs on each side, and of course, there were two green apple sides, and two “sliced” apple sides. The border around the outside was a little more challenging, but as I pieced that together, the outside of the LPs started to take shape. Now I’m to the pieces that are just vinyl. All the pieces are black, so I’m going mostly by shape. I hope to have it done by the end of the week.


But I’ll get back to that.

I have to admit that I was pretty shaken by the death of Whitney Houston. I was never a huge fan, but I played a ton of her music when I was at WBNQ.  It was a perfect soundtrack for that time period. It was up, it was well-produced, and her voice was amazing. Seriously, it was just incredible. Very strong, very confident. And as a friend of mine who worked with me in those radio days remarked on Facebook, at that time she seemed like the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth. She seemingly had everything it took to make her a superstar for years to come.

Then it all started to unravel for Whitney. She started becoming tabloid fodder…bad marriage, rumors of alcohol and drug abuse, and her voice and image started to fade. And over the weekend, she joined the class of incredibly talented people who never made it to see their 50th birthday, either due to a fast, deliberate suicide, or a slow, painful suicide.

I tried to explain to my kids how popular this person was at one time. It was hard for them to grasp, since she had tried to stay out of the public eye pretty much since they were born. They couldn’t understand why someone who seemed to have all the elements of a great career would throw it away to drug and alcohol abuse. I didn’t have an answer for them, because I don’t really understand it either.

It started me thinking about those who seemed to have great careers, but decided to end their lives at the point of a gun or at the end of a rope. People like Don Cornelius, Kurt Cobain, Del Shannon (one of my musical heroes) and others. Maybe they just achieved too much too quickly, and couldn’t deal with the downside of a career. I have no answers there either.

Reading my last few blog entries made me feel like I was reading the rants of a crotchety old man who was determined to live in the past and felt out of place in the present. I guess when you get to be my age, you start getting resentful that there are elements in life that you just can’t keep up with anymore. Music starts to pass you by, not to mention technology. Man, I used to be on the cutting edge of all that…in radio, you had to be up on everything new and relevant. But I guess I have too many other things to worry about these days…knowing every artist that puts out music these days just isn’t at the top of the list like it used to be.

Then I went back to work on that puzzle. And it made me realize (prepare yourself for the profound point to this whole story) that life is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. It starts off kind of easy, with pieces falling together quickly, and a form starting to take shape right away. You think “What’s the big deal? This is easy!” Then, the puzzle starts to get a little more difficult, but you still have a pretty good handle on things. You start to get a little cocky, but then you grab a piece that looks like it will fit into a spot perfectly, and when you try it, it just doesn’t fit perfectly…so you put it aside and move on to find another piece that looks like it will fit. When you find a piece that DOES fit perfectly, you get more of a sense of accomplishment than you did in the early going. You appreciate it more for some reason.  Soon, all the pieces that are left have trouble fitting in, and at times you feel like just giving up. Yet, you’re determined to see it through so you can look upon your finished product and admire the time and effort it took to get to the finish line.

Don’t worry friends…I’m not down, and I’m certainly not looking to take the “Hemmingway” out.  Just getting a little philosophical on yo’ ass, that’s all. However, I DO want this post to end on a happier note, so here’s a great musician joke a friend told me:

What outlook calendar does a jazz guitarist use to keep track of his gigs? DECADE AT A GLANCE! 

I love that one.


About groovyrick

I live in a small town in Illinois with my wife and three kids. I am a part-time musician, part-time writer, and full-time dreamer.
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9 Responses to I’m puzzled by life

  1. Randy Halberg says:

    I was watching the news last night and they were playing an interview with Whitney from a few years ago. When asked about the drug and alcohol abuse and “why”, she gave an interesting answer. I’m paraphrasing, but basically it was “you don’t know the pressure of what it’s like to sing in front of 10,000 people who came to see you, and not disappointing them”

    • groovyrick says:

      I agree with that to an extent. I think that when you get to that level, there is SO much expectation put on you by those around you. I’ve always believed that Elvis was one of the most “used” people on the planet. Everyone just sponged off of him, so when he couldn’t deliver, he felt like he was letting everyone down.

  2. Tara says:

    Whitney was my hero and so are you. Have you seen her in the Preacher’s Wife? or Cinderella with Brandy? I guess Whitney is a great example of one of the many famous people that found out that money can’t buy you happiness. Whitney will always make me want to dance with somebody though….no matter what.

    p.s. What would the picture of my puzzle be?

    • groovyrick says:

      Tara, when I think of a puzzle of you, I picture a huge smile…because you always make me smile, and you usually have a smile when I’m around you. I guess the tough part of the puzzle would be the dark background, because we would most likely be in a bar 🙂

  3. Larry says:

    I find the more difficult puzzles easier to finish with my best friend in life.

    • groovyrick says:

      Indeed, my friend. That certainly makes a lot of the pieces fit together…or at least it makes it easier to cope when there are pieces that just aren’t fitting together right.

  4. Melinda says:

    I remember one puzzle…when just about the time I was ready to finish it, someone accidentally knocked all the pieces off the table and onto the floor and I had to start over. Yep, that’s kind of like life. You’re right!

  5. Great post here, Rick! And I love the joke at the end!

  6. Ann says:

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy the “stress” excuse for drugs and alcohol. My job gets stressful too, but I can find MANY less destructive ways to handle the stress. Ride a bike, play the piano, read a book, take a nap, spend time with my husband and son……Call me crotchety if you wish.

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