the watched pot theory

perhaps one of the most surprising truths of this world, and one i apparently refuse to learn, is the near-impossibility to find what it is i actively seek.

the whole ‘a watched pot never boils’ idea (which is a lie.  it just takes a while and makes me really antsy), ya know?

i’m a pro when it comes to finding four-leaf clovers.  come spring, when the most charming of weeds creeps over the sidewalk in my front yard, it’s nearly impossible for me to walk outside for more than a few minutes without seeing one.

but the thing is,

i see them when i don’t mean to.  i’ll casually look down mid-conversation or mid-stride and spot a four-leaf clover, snatch it up, present it most properly to my sweet wife, who will then casually ball it up and drop it the moment i forget i handed it to her.

if i go looking for four-leaf clovers, however,

i cannot find them.

i’ll stand over a clump of clover, muttering to myself in frustration and wholly shocked that i, the greatest of four-leaf-clover-finders, cannot find one.

* * *

the same logic holds when i play basketball.  in shoot-around or when i’m goofing off by myself, when i try to jump high – going in for a dunk, for example – i don’t get nearly as high off the ground as i do mid-game.

when i’m not searching for air above the rim – when i’m too busy doing something like grabbing a rebound or asking the gentlemen beneath me how the view is from down there, i fly.

that’s when i find what i wasn’t looking for.

* * *

the thing about this truth (that i should name, so i don’t have to keep referring to it as ‘this truth,’ which sounds way too proper) is that, not only is it present in my day-to-day, but i get frustrated when my search comes up empty.

**let’s name this the ‘watched pot theory’ for right now. **

that is the lesson i wish i would remember.  at this point, i should be ready not to find what i’m looking for instead of getting angry with myself for walking away from my hunt empty handed.  i mean – isn’t that what the U2 song is about?

how often do we write stories in which the real story is the characters actually finding exactly what they sought?  the hobbit isn’t actually about a treasure hunt.  it’s a hobbit coming of age.  it’s that darn ring that almost seems like a throw-away prop.

what was found is not what was sought,

and that is what makes the story beautiful.

* * *

this idea presented itself to me – my watched pot theory – in a concrete manner the other night when i did a few things i’ve wanted to do for a while.  i came home happy.

and i’m certain i came home happy because i did not go into the journey thinking,

this will make me happy.’

boy, oh boy, would i have been disappointed to come home from that trip.

i think what i’m trying to have the gumption to say is that it makes me sad when i see people do ‘things’ thinking ‘this is it.  this will be what makes me happy/fulfilled/etc.’

because that’s . . . a lie.

i was a sad and empty person when i looked for happiness and fulfillment in things.  when the next noun, surely, surely, was going to change things.  when i tried to measure happiness in what i felt, not what i knew.

and i’m doing that thing where i start a post in one place, take it somewhere else, and then have no idea how to finish it.

gimme a sec.  let’s type out my three asterisks to give myself time to think/stall.

* * *

i hope to remember my own advice.

i hope i remember that if i look for specifics, i need to be thrilled when the results that are not those specifics.

to be thrilled to be learning patience and discipline with my body when i can’t jump as high as i think i should.

to enjoy the time i spend with the sun on my back when i can’t find that damn clover.

to relish flipping through books i know i won’t buy because i just like doing it, not because buying those books from an indie bookstore (support indie bookstores!) will make me a better me.

i’ll click ‘publish,’ now.

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