Are you trying to figure something out and you know the answer is right in front of you, but you can’t see it? Have you ever looked for something you know is somewhere in your house and you can’t find it? And it is worse if you really don’t know what you are looking for, need it right away, and not having it makes your life more complicated or difficult. Isn’t it frustrating when you find what you were looking for, whether it’s an object or an answer, to see that it was right in front of you all along? I learned this lesson with a leaf blower and vacuum yard tool.
My mother gave me a leaf blower/vacuum when she sold her house and moved into an apartment. She no longer needed it and I have a property with lots of trees and leaves to pick up in the fall. For several years I used the vacuum attachment, which meant stopping to empty the bag multiple times as it filled. One day I thought I would blow all of the leaves into a big pile and bag them all at once. I went into the garage to get the blower attachment which I thought was on the floor, where I store the big garden tools. But it wasn’t there. What’s worse, I had never seen or used the blower, as my mother always used the vacuum attachment and that is how she gave the yard tool to me, so I didn’t even know what the blower attachment looked like. How was I going to find it when I had no idea what I was looking for and it wasn’t where I thought it would or should be?
So I went on-line to find a picture of the leaf blower attachment and found a diagram but nothing that showed me exactly what I was looking for. I think the leaf blower company assumed that the consumer had all of the parts and didn’t need to see a photo of the attachments. I looked all over the garage and basement, even looking in places where I knew I would not have put it, but it was nowhere to be found. I knew that having the blower would make gathering the leaves go faster but since I couldn’t find it I just vacuumed and bagged the leaves, annoyed that I could not use the blower to put them in a big pile. I was seriously thinking about buying a new one even though they are a little expensive (and I already had one, I just couldn’t find it).
Occasionally, during the next year, I would go into the garage and look for the blower attachment but never found it. I even called my mother and asked her if she had forgotten to give it to me and she said given me all of the parts I needed. That was true for her because she never used the blower and as far as she was concerned, the vacuum was the important part. So for the next two years I vacuumed the leaves and wished I could blow them into a pile. And I would occasionally look for the blower in the garage but never found it.
Then one spring day I was re-arranging my yard tools, moving my snow equipment to the back of the tool rack because I no longer needed it and I saw a small, white plastic bag hanging from one edge of the tool rack. I looked inside to find the leaf blower attachment, owner’s manual and other parts. It had been there all along. Since I store the large garden tools on the floor of the garage, I assumed that all of the parts were on the floor as well. They weren’t, the blower attachment was in a bag, hanging above it. If I had looked up just a little and looked inside the bag, I would have found it.
Even though the bag was hanging there all along, and despite the fact that I had been looking for it for over two years, I wasn’t looking for a bag, I was looking for something that was big (like the vacuum attachment), bulky and looked more like the vacuum (which would not have fit in the bag). This part is very small and has nothing attached to it. Just to see if it worked, I attached the blower and used it to clean the garage — it worked great. Now I can do both, vacuum or blow the leaves in a pile and I will never again lose the blower attachment because I now know what it looks like and to be sure I know where it is, I store it on the floor, next to the vacuum.
What’s the lesson here? There are so many great things I got from this experience:
1. The answers are usually right in front of us, we just need to expand our awareness to see them.
2. When you don’t know what you are looking for, you may find it somewhere you never thought of looking.
3. Others share with you in ways that are useful to them (my mother wasn’t interested in the blower so she didn’t point it out or show me how to use it), you have to make adjustments to allow it to be useful for you (I had to figure out what the blower looked like and learn how to use it by myself).
4. As the saying goes, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ I could have purchased a new leaf blower but it was expensive and I knew that it was somewhere in my garage (or my mother wasn’t telling me the truth, but I knew she was) and I would eventually find it. Now we have to find balance here because we eventually have to decide how long we’re going to look and when it’s time to quit and explore another solution.
5. Getting away from the problem helps shift your perspective. I found the blower attachment when I was no longer looking for it and doing something else. Distance can be a big source of enlightenment.
6. What you find may look much different than what you were looking for. Expectations can prevent you from seeing what is right in front of you.
7. Once you find what you are looking for, you stop looking. No matter how long it takes, the time and effort spent condenses into a single moment of joy when you find the answer (or your blower attachment) and you are happy because you knew it was there all along, waiting for you to find it. But the moment of joy is destroyed if you start judging yourself for your lack of awareness or for not finding it sooner.
We find what we are looking for when we are ready to, and sometimes when we have exhausted all of our available resources and decide that we either no longer need it or we stop allowing it to frustrate us. Take a step back, look up, be open to finding it in a place you would never think of looking, that it may look totally different than you what you expect, and it may just appear right in front of you.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Jennifer Hoffman. All rights reserved. You may quote, translate, reprint or refer to this message if you mention the author name and include a working link to http://enlighteninglife.com