Tag Archives: Margaret Drabble

Life is not a ladder but a jigsaw

I like to tell fellow ROM visitors — strange how they back away from me — about my theory, borrowed from the novelist Margaret Drabble, about why people are so angry and unhappy now. Suffering from the illness known as “affluenza,” they are told to view life as an economic ladder, a vertical clamber to success. But people are falling off the ladder now, or are stalled mid-rung, and it hurts.

Drabble says life is not a ladder but a jigsaw. It moves sideways and around, no one event knocking you into the abyss. Suddenly a job loss or a sick child or a bad divorce is just another piece in the broad jigsaw, part of a pattern in the carpet. No section of the jigsaw is more important than any other. This is a comfort when the wheels come off.

Heather Mallick