The day it happened was one of the coldest days of the year. I believe we broke numerous records for wind chill and temperature. As you can imagine, I dreaded going out in the bitter cold, but I had an appointment waiting for me.
Anyway, in all my excitement, my ski coat hit the car console and changed the radio station to AM radio. All of the sudden, I was hit with the sound of loud static and talk radio. Where was my top 40 station? While I continued to drive, I tried to figure out what exactly I had done to my radio and how I could remedy the situation.
I fiddled with the knobs and my technologically advanced screen, searching for the FM button, to no avail. At every red light, I studied the console, pushed at the buttons and searched for the answer. I even tried to recreate how I had originally hit the radio, but even that didn’t help me.
I’m embarrassed to say that this went on for four days. Like clockwork, I went through the same process, prodding at buttons, searching on the screen and scanning the console for the FM button that would solve all my problems. When I arrived at my destination on the fourth day, I decided on another tactic to solve this problem.
I pulled up to the gym and put my car in park. I reached over to the glove compartment and pulled out my car manual. I might add at this point that I did feel a little foolish, but I was frustrated and tired of the whole process. The manual showed illustrations of the different buttons on the console, including the radio. There, in the picture, was the large button for FM, located beneath the radio. I pulled my focus away from the book and looked at my car’s console. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that the large button for FM was exactly where the manual said it would be. Frankly, it was in plain sight and easy to see. If I felt foolish before, I truly felt like an idiot now.
I was at Panera the other day and I was making myself a cup of tea. I overheard the women at the counter asking why they didn’t have herbal tea anymore. She insisted that it wasn’t there. I spoke up and told her to come over so I could help her find it. She was shocked to see it when I pointed it out to her and she shared that she felt foolish. She couldn’t believe that she had stared at it forever and didn’t see it. It was so easy to see now.
I chuckled and told her I knew exactly how she felt. I shared with her that sometimes we don’t see things that are right in front of our eyes. She agreed and walked away.
We’ve all had those experiences. Our perceptions are so often colored by our expectations, our past experiences, and our preconceived ideas. My friend at Panera EXPECTED the tea to be in different packaging— therefore, every time she scanned the tea, she didn’t see what she needed. My experience with my FM radio was affected by my preconceived idea that the answer was either on my screen or on either side of the radio. I never looked BENEATH the radio.
Sometimes, we miss the most obvious things, and afterwards we wonder how we could have failed so miserably. In life, the answers are often right in front of our eyes, but we’re working so hard to find the answer that we make it a much more complicated process than it needs to be. Maybe we need to just open our minds and see it from a different perspective.