Imagine a store, its floor to ceiling shelves lined with puzzle boxes. The picture on the front of each box shows a different potential desire. You pick the box that you like the best, but lo and behold, it’s empty. You look around and find a store clerk, they chuckle slightly and look at you with more than a hint of pity. You get the feeling that you’re not going to like where this is going. The clerk tell you to you to follow him, and heads toward the back of the store. He opens a door you hadn’t noticed before, and flips on a light switch as he steps inside. The lights flicker on long enough for you to see a HUGE pile of puzzle pieces strewn about on the floor of a storeroom that’s about the size of a football field. As the lights begin to flicker off and on, the clerk shrugs, reaches in his pocket, and withdraws a small penlight. He shines it on the box you’ve chosen, enters a code in a keypad beside the door, and from out of nowhere, a new box drops onto the shelf beside the keypad. He hands you the new box. The picture on the front of the box is dark and out of focus. He tucks your dream puzzle under his arm and says, ‘put that one together, and then come find me.’
As he turns to walk out, you shake the box. ‘Wait a minute!’, you exclaim, ‘This box is empty, too!’ He stops, tosses you the penlight and points to the puzzle pieces scattered across the floor. ‘It’s in there. Good luck.’
This was not what you signed up for. You were supposed to be able to pick out your desires, put the pieces together, and get what you came for, not be shoved into some dusty back room, putting together old, out of focus puzzles! But you really want that desire puzzle, so you get down on your hands and knees and begin to search.
It seemed like ages, but you finally got the damn thing finished. You call the clerk back in, he nods, enters another code into the keypad, and out drops another box! The clerk hands you the box and leaves you alone in the room once again. Now you’re really mad. You throw the new box back on the table, prepared to storm out. ‘Forget this,’ you think, ‘It’s just not worth it.’ But when the box lands on the table, you hear a distinctly puzzle-like rattle. Curious, you open the box and peer inside.
Wait… is that…??
You reach inside, and pull out several puzzle pieces that clearly belong to the desire puzzle you picked off the shelf. A light flickers on above the scattered puzzle pieces. You smile. You are beginning to understand.
Over and over, the process repeats. Find all the pieces to a puzzle, put them together, get a new puzzle, and a few pieces to the puzzle you want. With each puzzle you complete, the lights get brighter and flicker less. You can begin to see how some piles of puzzle pieces go together. It’s not quite as random as it had seemed in the dark.
Finally, when the clerk enters a code into the keypad, it gives a soft ‘beep’. He turns, smiles, says, ‘Congratulations’, and hands you the box to the puzzle from the front of the store.
Some people will proceed with the puzzle they originally chose. Others may have decided they wanted a different puzzle partway through the process. But you can’t get the pieces to the bright, shiny puzzles on the shelves in the front of the store without doing the work of putting together the old, dusty, out of focus puzzles all jumbled together in the back room.
That’s how LOA works.