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The Last Place You Look

My dad had an impish, goofy sense of humor. He was fond of observing people, not to judge them in any way, just out of sheer fascination. He was famous in our family for going to Disneyland and spending a lot of his time there just sitting on a bench "to watch people". One of the many things that tickled him was hearing people talk about searching for a lost item and saying, at the end of their story, "and it was in the last place I looked". "As if they would keep looking after they found it", he would always say, and giggle his endearing little giggle.

If we had an instinct that would unfailingly tell us where the last place was, in terms of lost items, we would of course go there first and our days of having to search for anything would be over. I can remember my brother demonstrating this frequently enough in our family. When there was something missing he would become very silent and still and meditative for a few moments or half an hour, however long it would take, and then he would rise and, more often than not, go straight to it. He taught us that the first place to look is inside, not outside.

Lost items, happiness, peace, fulfillment, joy, passion, it's all the same. It is our long ingrained habit, as human beings, to look outward first. The world is so chock full of stuff, so mesmerizing! It must be out there, we say, and so we look and look, we acquire things, relationships, experiences and skills. Yet, for many there is still the feeling of not enough, not quite, not exactly what I was looking for. Sometimes we have to look until we are at the point of total exhaustion and desperation, until an overwhelming feeling of resignation or some uncontrollable crisis drives us inside. It is then we are amazed to discover, if we stay inside long enough and get to know the place, that everything we are looking for, and so much more than we ever dreamed was available, is there-- in the quiet, undemanding, elegant simplicity of inner space.

Oh boy, isn't it always in the last place you look?


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