How We Find What We’re Looking For
By Z Zoccolante
Among the beautiful things in my life this week, I also found myself pretty exhausted. I think it would be cool if they had little bumble bee hive pods like they do in Japan, and you could crawl into one of them and shut yourself in for hours or days. And, of course, they’d be magical so that when you were in them time was different and you could sleep for a day or a week in the hive while outside in the real world only five minutes had passed.
There was a show I’d watch when I was a kid, about a girl who could snap her fingers and stop time. I always wondered what that would be like. Would I stop the world and read hundreds of books, become mega smart? Would I be brave enough to venture places I wouldn’t go alone? Would I be able to observe people in detail without the Heisenberg effect?
The Heisenberg effect, which states that when we become players in the game it changes the game. It’s based on Karl Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which showed that particles in his physics experiments changed positions when they were observed. Having someone as witness is enough to change a particle’s behavior. Having a witness is enough to change a human’s behavior as well.
Take this example every dog owner can relate to. When I first got my dog I had a little poop bag holder Velcro-ed to my dog’s leash. When I’d walk by a lump of dog poo on the ground I’d wonder what inconsiderate, irresponsible dog owner would just leave it behind as a gift to the world.
Fast forward. My dog’s a year old. The Velcro on my nice poop container has since broken and now tie a few bags to the leash. However, every so often I forget to retie them. When I realize my leash is empty, I’ve usually left the house and think to myself, oh no I’m going to be that person.
Well maybe she just won’t have to go, I think. Then Murphy laughs at me.
As I’m walking down the sidewalk and my dog pops a squat on the green grass next to an anonymous neighbor’s front lawn, a car pulls up on the street parallel to my dog and her now pile of business. I have my earphones in and I sigh, “Come on Vega. Let’s go home and get a bag.” This is where observation takes effect. Her as witness made me turn back towards my house to get a bag. If she hadn’t pulled up and seen it, I might have kept going. Maybe come back later to pick it up, but later.
The woman gets out and rounds the back of her car as I’m on my first step back towards my house.
“Is this yours,” she says.
I still have my earphones in. The music is low enough to hear what she says just not the tone. I respond with a disgruntled sigh in my voice, “Yeah. I’m going to get a bag right now. I ran out.”
She replies, “Hold on I’ll give you one.”
She walks up her driveway and disappears in her house. I pull my earphones out and self-question the tone I spoke to her in. Remember, I had my earphones on so I’m not sure if exactly how the words came out of my mouth.
She comes back and hands me a bag. “Thanks so much,” I say, “That’s really nice of you.” We part with have a nice day pleasantries.
As I pick up the poo and tie the bag in a knot, I feel like an a-hole. I realize that I’ve had enough encounters with people that make it their personal business to be a-hole about my dog that I reacted as though that lady was another jerk trying to shame me or pull a better than thou.
In truth, she was kind and wanted to help. She had a dog and probably knows what it’s like to have something like that happen and not have what you need in the moment.
I realize that I’m the one that’s let the jerky people affect me. I’m the one that assumed the worst in her just because some people have been jerks to me. I forget that there are also so many wonderful people, who’ve been kind to my dog, brought water to the outdoor restaurant table, asked if they could feed her a treat or pet her.
I realize that our brain tends to hold onto the few negatives and let it overpower the many positives.
They say that you always find what you’re looking for and believe that’s true. But this incident taught me that even when we’re assuming the worst, people surprise us. Sure, some people are a-holes, but there are many more people that are kind, that are willing to help.
So as you go through your week, remember that we may not have a bee-like-hive that houses magic. We may not be able to stop time. But good people can be found everywhere. Instead of assuming the worst in others, let’s assume the best.
If Heisenberg is right, and I’m certain he is, things change when we observe them. So let’s observe our lives, and everyone around us, with love and kindness and watch how that can spread like a ripple in the dark.