The Missing Piece Meets The Big O: Summary, Meaning and 4 Life Lessons

Cover of The Missing Piece Meets The Big O

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is a short story (conveyed through poems and drawings) written by Shel Silverstein. It was first published in 1976. The story revolves around a “Little Piece” who is looking for its perfect match that would ‘complete’ it.

“I was hoping that perhaps I could roll with you…”

“You cannot roll with me,” said the Big O, “but perhaps you can roll by yourself.”

This exchange between the Little Piece and the Big O captures the essence of a heartwarming tale of self-love and discovery in ‘Little Piece meets the Big O’ by Shel Silverstein.

He nudges us lightly to the unexplored lane of self-love. His genius lies in the simplicity with which he has relayed his heartwarming tale. Behind his simple words lies the profound truth that there is no such thing as a perfect match.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O: Summary, Meaning and Plot Analysis

The book is centered around Little Piece – who is looking for its perfect match that would complete it.

Cover of The Missing Piece Meets The Big O
Cover of The Missing Piece Meets The Big O

He saw all kinds of pieces coming up to it; some fit but couldn’t roll and some that could roll didn’t fit. It learned to avoid the hungry and fragile ones, found and let go of the over-analyzing ones and even tried to make itself attractive for the ones it liked.

None of that worked until she found one that fit, atleast at the start. All was well until the missing piece began to grow. Both of them were not expecting or ready for that to happen.

This was heartbreaking for the missing piece and eventually they both part ways, making the missing piece alone again. The Missing piece again finds someone that it thinks might be a perfect fit. She has now found the Big O.

It proposes to roll with it only to be told that she could tried rolling by itself. It finds the idea strange, the idea of a pointed missing piece to be able to roll by itself, nevertheless, she tries to explore that idea and Lift-Pull-Flop… Lift-Pull-Flop…. it was able to roll by itself!

an image of a page from missing piece meets the big O

Why I love it?

This tale is an amazing testimony to the simplicity with which Silverstein has driven the profound message home in so few words, the way he has named these characters: the Missing Piece, the Big O… it’s genius!

The number of myths that this tale has busted, the quintessential silver lining and not to forget the happy ending!

4 Life Lessons from The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

There is no perfect match

While the missing piece feels alone waiting for something that will come along and complete itself, it inherently assumes that it is not complete by itself. It thinks that something more is needed for it to feel good about itself and it fails to look at the world without that assumption embedded in it.

How many times have we turned into a ball of wax when we see Tom Cruise confessing to Renee Zelleweger in Jerry Macguire – ‘You Complete me?’

Don’t stop trying

Other pieces took advantage, ran over her, some were too fragile to have plopped right in front of her; some it scared away with its flashy behavior, but never once did our little missing piece quit.

image of a page from the book the missing piece meets the big O
A page from The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

It kept the faith alive and even resorted to tricks to make her dream more achievable, like making itself attractive, it tried to solicit interest, it even asked people explicitly if they would take it along.

Be open to experimentation

Believe that what you end up getting might be different from what you envisioned but in no way does it mean that what you end up with, is any less than what you had in mind before.

Every relationship, bitter or sweet, has a place in our lives

The Little Piece learnt from being ignored that it needed to do something to attract attention, when attracting too much attention, it realized that it was scaring the shy ones away.

When trying to appear attractive, it realized that it was taken advantage of and while Big O didn’t take it along with her, it learned the very important lesson of self-discovery and contentment.

Every experience, bitter or sweet makes us a better person.

We might start off in a relationship believing firmly in our hearts that this is the best and that nothing could go wrong with it. This may not be the case, as many of us find in the course of our lives.

People grow out of their relationships… that’s the truth. While this realization is painful, it nevertheless makes us prepared to take our lives forward, when that happens.

Albert Einstein once famously remarked “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

He might very well be referring to Shel Silverstein.

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