Jigsaw puzzle manufacturers often use the same die-cuts to make the pieces to their puzzles. This allows artists like Tim Klein to make art from the unexpected mash-ups of what was once perceived as unrelated content. He makes sense of the unsensible, turns it into something beautiful. Unique. Things people value and put on their walls.
As a society, we’re presented with two boxes of similar puzzles: male and female. They are one-hundred pieces big, one piece for every year we may live. They are pink, they are blue. They are an iSpy of expectations, social norms, physical traits. They are, most importantly, meant to be separated, completed to create their own whole–meant to match the picture on the box.
So you open the box you were given, receiving a new piece for every year, using the box cover as your guide to create your art. You are female, it says. You are pink. You are these things we come to expect: softness in personality and frame, in relationships and emotions, submissive at home, at work, in society. And you’re attractive. So, so attractive.
You put your hand in the box and pull the first piece and put it on the table. You take another, and find its match. You continue until a corner of the picture starts to reveal, and it doesn’t match the box. You have a mixture of blue and pink, or more blue than pink, or no pink at all, and you take it apart and try again.
But it’s the same. It’s wrong, and you aren’t sure why. You’re working with what you were given, you didn’t switch out the pieces, so why doesn’t it match? Why doesn’t it match?
I’ve lived through my fair share of uncertainties. I’ve attributed gender confusion to sexuality, because gender was a thing you were born with, it was the puzzle box you were given. But with all these mismatched pieces, I was fated to a life of wearing another skin–bloated and awkward, teetering on the edge of a cliff waiting to fall, the anxiety sitting next to me waiting to make the final push.
There were a lot of pieces in my puzzle that made me realize that these boxes were never meant to be separate–that in the end, my puzzle wasn’t wrong. The Joystick was one of those pieces. I had learned about the prosthetic, and it plagued me for months for reasons I couldn’t comprehend. It was a piece that was cut to fit into my puzzle, but I was too scared to see if it clicked into place, to see how it would continue to fill out my picture. But I couldn’t ignore it, and I purchased it despite the risk it had attached to it; the risk of answering the questions like “Will it be worth the expense?” or “Will it make any difference at all?” or worse: “Do I even have the right to own this?”.
I got my answers. The piece slid into place, and it finished a connection to my body, like closing a circuit, that I didn’t think was ever possible. I’m trying not to hyperbolize, but it was, quite honestly, the moment that opened the door to me taking ownership of my picture. Of owning all the blues that outweighed the pinks, of having the courage to say that this picture could be just as beautiful, if not moreso, than the anticipated and expected outcome. Because sometimes you don’t know you were missing something until you have it; sometimes you can’t see the picture behind the brushstrokes until you step a few feet back.
No matter how many pinks and blues (or no colors at all) you have in your box, your picture is beautiful too. It was never meant to match the art on the box, because your art is so much more than you were lead to believe. Turn the unsensible into beauty. Be unique. And most of all: value yourself.