“Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them.” Daryl Zero, Zero Effect
What you’re looking for impedes what you will find. There was a report on NPR about this this morning but I have thought about this for a long time. I call it the “Zero Effect” (from the movie.) In the NPR report the research was mostly on what the eyes see when the brain is trained to look for something specific, let’s say cancer cells.
You’re a doctor (congratulations!) and you are searching slides looking for cancer cells. In one of the slides there is a tiny picture of a gorilla. You won’t see it. You just won’t. You are looking for cancer not gorillas. You are too focused on cancer cells to see a gorilla (which would be an unusual thing to see in some cells, no?) The end of the report was something to the effect of “be careful what you tell people to look for in cases of terrorism, etc.” If you are too focused on looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, you will miss the ordinary. And, boom! Done.
In life, in love, this is so true. Maybe more true. If you are looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. If you are looking, searching for a happy, or a perfect, or a stress-free, or a neat little life, you are way sabotaging yourself—you are missing all the rest of what’s there. Stop looking so hard. Just be there. Stop looking. See the gorillas; gorillas are everyfuckingwhere!
So, what are you looking for? Are you so focused that you are missing out on everything else?
Messy lives are more fun and completely satisfying, like big fat juicy steak and a cold beer satisfying. You just have to let yourself stop looking for something so neat. Be nice, relax, enjoy, take in some of what’s already there. I’m writing this to you and to me.
Stop trying so hard to fit your life into a form, a mold. It just won’t fit. Ever. You can’t be all the things that they want you to be, that you want to be. So, just try to be anything, see what feels right, and keep going.