I was at a gathering the other day in which two people took part in some friendly competition.
Each had a jigsaw puzzle on a table in front of them with pieces of the puzzle scattered about.
Starting from scratch, the participants were to put their puzzles together with the winner being whoever could complete their puzzle first.
As others watched and cheered the competitors on, the participants hunted for the corner pieces first, then put together the four borders and then worked their way in toward the center.
They knew what they were doing. After all, this wasn't their first jigsaw puzzle.
Eventually, one of the competitors edged ahead of the other and was on the verge of victory with just one more piece to put in to complete the puzzle.
But where was the final piece? It wasn't on the table. It wasn't on the floor beneath the table. The competitor practically got on his hands and knees looking for it.
Then he looked over at the host of the event, the person who had set up the puzzles. He was holding the final piece. Everyone watching laughed. It was a good joke.
I came away from that thinking about all the applications that exercise had in life.
How many of us are aware of a missing piece in our own life? And if we are aware, how frantically are we looking for it? Are we looking in the right places or are we wasting our time?
What's the missing piece in Washington? Why can't anything meaningful get done? And don't blame it just on the Trump administration. Washington has been a puzzle for generations.
And while we're at it, what's the missing piece in local government?
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in all the public surveys done earlier this year in the Vision North Iowa project sponsored by the Mason City and Clear Lake chambers of commerce and the North Iowa Corridor EDC. And incidentally, where are we in learning the results of those surveys and where we go from here?
What's the missing piece in Mason City? Maybe there's more than one. Are we looking for it? Are we looking in all the right places?
Just as we can examine our own lives in search of the missing pieces, so should we do the same with our communities.
What's the missing piece? Where do we find it? What do we do in the meantime?
Good questions to ask the candidates as election time rolls around.