There were four piles of photo printouts on my desk of various heights. They were there. I put them there. I saw them there mere minutes preceding a co-worker's request to look at them. Yet in defiance of all that the scientific method has taught us about observable, empirical and measurable evidence, the photo printouts were not to be found in the four piles on my desk.
My colleague Sue’s request was reasonable and professional.
She wanted a dozen or so printouts of a recent photo shoot so she could visualize them better before she posted the images to our Web site.
Except I was on a deadline to finish our print version, and had the cool, calm and collectedness typically encountered in a cornered spider monkey.
There were four piles of photo printouts on my desk of various heights. The printouts Sue requested were definitely in one of them.
They were there.
I put them there.
I saw them there mere minutes preceding Sue’s reasonable, professional request.
I would attest to this in any court of law in the land after pledging on the holy Bible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Yet in defiance of all that the scientific method has taught us about observable, empirical and measurable evidence, the photo printouts that were the subject of Sue’s reasonable, professional request coming at deadline time were not to be found in the four piles on my desk.
There were a lot of photo printouts, to be sure, but there were only four piles.
So why is it, I thought, as I frenziedly tore through the four piles a second and then a third time, Sue standing over me offering quiet words of encouragement, that they were now nowhere to be found?
How can this be happening?
Situations that defy the scientific method can lead to statements that lack logical consistency, like the statement I proceeded to make to Sue.
“They’re here. They’re definitely here. But they’re not here right now. I’ll get them later,” I then trailed off into mutterings along the lines of “Why me? Why me?”
My statement seemed to suggest that the photo printouts Sue was seeking had wandered away from the desk, but that I expected them to return, maybe when they got tired or hungry.
I returned to the tasks at hand, focusing so completely that I barely heard remarks regarding my mental health emanating from neighboring cubicles.
It was then, completely absorbed in not finding the photo printouts that were the subject of Sue’s reasonable, professional request, that I glanced over at pile 2 and saw the photo printouts peeking out from underneath a photo printout of a skateboarder.
I can only describe this as a Zen-like moment.
My experience can be understood thusly: In order to find the photo printouts I had to not seek them.
This is heavy stuff that I would like to expand upon, perhaps by not thinking about it.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media Service’s Raynham, Mass., office and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.