Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seeing With New Eyes

It was right-under-my-nose and if it'd-been-a-snake-it-would-have-bitten-me. The lunch box that I carry everyday to work was missing and I had looked for it everywhere. Or so I thought. Actually, it took me a day or so to realize it was truly missing. I just thought it was in one of the usual places where it resides. When it wasn't in the usual spot on the dining room table, I assumed I left it in the car. When I didn't find it in the car, I assumed I left it at work. When I couldn't find it at work, I started again looking for it in the dining room and so I went searching for it in this circular motion for a couple of days. I looked all over the dining room, the car and my lunch spot at work, repeatedly, daily, frequently. I discussed it with my co-workers that I eat with. I mulled over the possibilities with increasing frustration and bewilderment. How could it have disappeared into thin air? Had I been in a total mental fog and left it somewhere exotic? Where else could it be? I expanded my search from the dining room to the nearby pantry and from the car to the garage with no luck. I had just about resigned myself to buying another lunch box when I was clearing the table in the breakfast area one day and saw it sitting on the floor by one of the chairs. I had walked by this table, eaten at this table and cooked near this table for several days and failed to spot the bag. I had spent countless minutes either looking for it or contemplating where to look for it. How could I miss something so obvious?

I think this happen all the time when we use preconceived notions or patterns to try and solve problems. I kept looking for the bag in one of the three places I assumed it would have been left. When it wasn't there, rather than expanding my search area to somewhere new, I simply started over, looking more thoroughly in the same spot: dining table, car, work area. Here's the funny thing-I didn't have to think far outside the norm to solve the problem. How many times is this the case? In trying to solve a problem we resort to re-visiting the same tired solutions when the real solution is found by simply stepping outside our usual parameters. Sometimes we don't have to travel far. Sometimes we simply turn our gaze in a different direction. What are you missing? Could the solution be right-under -your -nose the whole time?

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

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