A few days ago, my partner and I came across a stand-up show on Netflix by a comedian called Daniel Sloss. On his Twitter profile Sloss proudly presents his “break up tally” which is, to date (5th October 2018):
Break ups — 7400+
Cancelled engagements — 34
Divorces — 42
Why would any decent person be so pleased to have caused roughly 15,000 people to break up their (sometimes years long) relationships?
That is a very fair question. Before answering, let me give you a quick introduction to Sloss’s wonderful comedy show.
What are we allowed to joke about?
Slight spoiler alert for what’s about to be written next, although it would not ruin the show for you. If anything — it should make you rush quicker to watch it.
Both ‘Dark’ and ‘Jigsaw’ are brilliantly written shows, in which Sloss is not afraid to joke about pretty much everything from obesity and middle-class white males to religion, liberals, vegans, death, and more.
Sloss uses comedy in the best possible way, not only to make his audience laugh but also to raise important questions about the way we think and behave.
“People takes jokes literally. People take the comedian’s jokes at face value. But that’s the thing you have to remember: this is all a performance.”
Daniel Sloss argues that you can joke about anything, including disabilities, and he proves this point throughout his shows. “Don’t pick what is offensive based on whether it affects your life or not,” he wisely suggests.
“I love that joke. That was hilarious because I’ve never experienced that! But my uncle had that disease [which you also joked about] so you’re a dick!”
Humor is a way to deliver a message and raise awareness. But sometimes a joke is just a fake little story you made up in order to make people laugh — and that’s it.
The Jigsaw puzzle analogy
“My generation has become so obsessed with starting the rest of their lives that they’re willing to give up the one they are currently living.”
In his show ‘Jigsaw’, Daniel Sloss shares a story that happened when he was seven years old and asked his dad about the meaning of life.
His father’s answer was a beautiful analogy that portrayed our lives as a jigsaw puzzle. He explained how we are all piecing together our own jigsaws with every lesson we learn and everything we experience. The catch is — we all lost the box so we must guess what the image should be like.
Like any other jigsaw puzzle, we should start piecing it from all four corners: family, friends, hobbies/interests, and job. And what about the center piece of the puzzle, you might wonder?
“Well, that’s the partner piece. You want this perfect person who you’ve never met before to come out of nowhere, fit your life perfectly, complete you, and make your life whole for the first time.”
Sloss claims that his father’s analogy led him to believe that if you are not with someone, you are broken and therefore not whole. In his show, he goes on to criticize our society for promoting this perfect romance ideology. For making children believe that every princess needs a prince, and every prince needs a princess.
That gets us, according to Sloss, to forcefully jam the wrong person into our jigsaw puzzle, regardless of the fact that they do not actually fit in. We even move other pieces around trying to make sure this person fits in, because we rather have something in the center of our jigsaw than have nothing.
“I don’t need this hobby. I don’t need this opinion. Mom who? The bitch with the tits. What has she done for me recently?”
Sloss goes on to talk about how people who are actually interested in each other have to build a jigsaw puzzle together, in order to make it work. But what happens if you realize that you and your partner both worked toward very different images?
Well, then you must ask yourself:
- Do I admit the last few years of my life have been a waste?
- Do I want to waste the rest of my life?
“People are more in love with the idea of love than the person they are with,” Sloss says. Unfortunately, I have to agree. I’ve known and met people who had that exact kind of relationship. People who can’t be alone. People who are trying to force a partner into their lives just so they can update the relationship status on their Facebook profile. I’ve known couples who uploaded photos and videos on social media with tags like #loveofmylife or #mylove or even #myotherhalf only to find out they broke up a few weeks later.
Realizing you were working toward a different jigsaw image does not means you’ve been wasting your time. If anything, it might help you learn how to build a better relationship next time.
What the first question above really means is: am I happy with the way I live my life?
The second question, which is just as crucial, means: if it feels like I am wasting my time being with this person, should I just keep going?
These are questions we must ask ourselves regularly, about every single aspect of our lives.
That takes me to a friend of mine who is turning 30 next month and recently told me the following phrase: “I just can’t wait until I hit retirement.”
He was basically providing his answer to question number one, although not in relation to his love life but in relation to his work. “I can’t wait to retire” equals to I am miserable and unhappy with the work I do and I desperately want it to change. The important question my dear friend didn’t dare to ask himself is — should I carry on like this for the next 37 years (more than he has lived so far) or should I make a change right now?
A virus and a cure
Falling in love with the idea of being in love is toxic. And it’s just another symptom of a highly contagious, fast-spreading virus.
This “perfect” life plan. The belief that life is designed and arranged into very specific stages. It’s all been prepared, now you just have to follow instructions. If you dare not to follow the plan — you are one big failure.
This is one of the main topics I like to talk (and write) about because I feel like it is my duty to try and prevent this “virus” from spreading. It is my duty because there is a cure. I know it because I’ve been infected myself and I’ve now almost completely healed. It is my obligation to help others find their remedy.
Some of you might recall previous articles in which I wrote about how afraid we are of being alone and why all the technological inventions of the last few decades are helping us to stay distracted. I also wrote about how, all of a sudden, we all became passionate travelers, but really we just look for an escape from our reality.
Sloss has a slight alteration of his dad’s jigsaw puzzle analogy. He says the center of our puzzles should be pieced together with things that make us happy.
“You have to learn to love yourself before you can allow someone else to do it as well,” he says.
And this is one of the reasons why I loved watching his set. Sloss isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, and he is delivering such an important message through his preferred line of communication: comedy.
Therefore, I completely understand why Sloss is keeping score of the number of couples who broke up after watching his show. It means his message has been delivered and fully understood.
A race against no one
If I may continue with this lovely jigsaw puzzle analogy, I believe that working toward completing our personal jigsaw puzzle is our journey of self-fulfillment. It’s all the things we do, all the pieces that we put together that fulfill who we are. It’s the combination of our passions, our skills, our experiences, the lessons we’ve learned, and the support from our loved ones that helps us get there.
Piece by piece. Step by step.
That’s why it is extremely sad to realize that we spend so much time chasing after the wrong things, following false ideas that someone sold us. And throughout this whole process, we are racing to complete our jigsaw puzzle only to realize it is a race to nowhere. A race against no one.
All this time we were just copying someone else’s jigsaw puzzle, and now we are left with a void that we created in the first place.
That’s the truth. Many of us are living a life that isn’t ours. It is this celebrity instagram-like lifestyle that we’re trying to keep up to.
But if each and every one of us is like a jigsaw puzzle then we are the only ones who can put those pieces together for ourselves. We cannot expect one piece to be the best of all. That’s why your wedding shouldn’t be the best day of your life. That’s why there isn’t one magical formula we can all follow.
Every single piece of your life, every single piece in your puzzle, has to be pieced together with intention. Because eventually, all those pieces are equally important if you want to create a beautiful life.
And there shouldn’t be a point in life where you should think: “that’s it! I’ve finally finished my jigsaw.”
Because life is about experiencing and achieving fulfillment, time and time again, with every piece you fit into your jigsaw puzzle.