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Why You Have to Stop Looking for Something in Order to Find It: A Case Study

photo: Justin Henry on flickr

photo: Justin Henry on flickr

What’s the worst thing you ever lost?

A house?

A job?

Your mind?

In the greater scheme of things, my recent loss wasn’t very big.

In fact, it was teeny weeny.

Here’s what I lost:


For those of you who aren’t sure what you’re looking at, it’s a top to a water bottle.

The water bottle itself looks like this:

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

When the bottle and its top are reunited in their perfect coupling, they look like this:

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Isn’t that just the most beautiful thing you ever saw?

Okay, maybe there are more beautiful things.

Like this:

photo: DinosaursAreNotDead on flickr

photo: DinosaursAreNotDead on flickr

And this:

photo: Domenico Salvagnin on flickr

photo: Domenico Salvagnin on flickr

And this:

photo: Jenny Downing on flickr

photo: Jenny Downing on flickr

But for me, the water bottle/top combo is right up there.

Which is why I was so devastated when I recently lost the top to my water bottle.

How could it be? How on earth could I have misplaced such a rare and precious possession?!

Actually, it wasn’t surprising at all.

I lose my water bottle all the time. I even write my name on the bottom of it, just on the off-chance that the person who finds it knows that “Z” is actually the name of a person, and that that person is me.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Sometimes this happens and I get my water bottle back. Sometimes my water bottle is lost forever.

But in this case, it was just the top that was missing.

It was very annoying. What good is water bottle without a top?

Actually, it’s still good for drinking water, but it gets a little tricky when you take it in the car with you.

Trust me, I know.

photo: Melissa Phillippe

photo: Melissa Phillippe

When my water bottle top first went missing, I searched our house high and low. I was certain I would find it.

It’s not like it had little legs and could sneak off in the middle of the night. Wherever it was, it was just sitting there, waiting for the day when I would find it and reunite it with its mate.

But that day didn’t come. I couldn’t find the water bottle top anywhere.

I started to wonder what it meant. What was the metaphorical significance of losing a water bottle top?

My head wasn’t screwed on straight? I was too “open,” too loose with my boundaries?

Or maybe it meant something magnificent, like I my crown chakra was totally open to the wisdom of the entire Universe.

photo: Peter Savich on flickr

photo: Peter Savich on flickr

Except I kept getting my pants wet any time I took my water bottle in the car, so I didn’t really feel aligned with the cosmos.

Finally, I stopped looking.

I had no choice. My water bottle top was gone. Sucked into that magic place where extra socks and favorite pens live.

Or so I thought.

One day, I opened the drawer to my desk.

And there, perched happily among the paper clips and desk paraphernalia, was my water bottle top!!

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

I open that desk drawer every day! Not once did I notice the water bottle top in there.

I would love to say that it’s because my water bottle top really did vanish to a magic place, and then miraculously reappeared. But, alas, this is not the case.

I didn’t see my water bottle top in the drawer because I didn’t expect to see it there. It wasn’t supposed to be there, so I didn’t see it there.

Have you ever had that happen? You can’t see what’s right in front of your face?

Like you’re looking for someone to love you, and you don’t notice all the people who already do. Or you’re looking for a better job, and you don’t notice all the things you like about your current one.

You’re so intent on finding a certain thing in a certain place, you’re blind to what’s right in front of you.

That’s why stopping the search can be so effective.

When you let go of expectations of where something is supposed to be, you open your eyes to finding it somewhere else. Somewhere unexpected.

I’ve had this happen time and time again. With vocations. And partners.

And now, my water bottle top.

I’m just so glad we’re reunited.

The best part is that now I can go for a ride in my car and keep my pants dry.

Whoo hoo!!

photo: Melissa Phillippe

photo: Melissa Phillippe

What’s your experience with letting go of the search? Share your comments below!

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12 Responses to Why You Have to Stop Looking for Something in Order to Find It: A Case Study

  1. River August 12, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    Hi Z!
    Yep, I know that dimensional place where extra socks live and now my camera. I know it is somewhere in this house but it has decided that I don’t need to use it to take really beautiful photos. So I have done what I can to find it but nada is happening. What I do when this sort of thing happens is I just surrender with the knowing that if it is mine, it will come back to me. If not, then it will not and I got to enjoy it while I had it.
    It’s that surrender thing that seems to do the trick! Looks to me, like you have that one down pretty good! Thanks as always for your sharings!

    • Z Egloff August 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi River,

      Maybe it’s taking pictures of you, looking for it. That would be cool!!

      Hope you and your camera are reunited soon! :)


  2. Jo August 12, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Yup, there really is a black hole where things disappear for a period of time. I think it gets full, like after Thanksgiving dinner, and eventually spits things back out. But as it appears to travel around in time and space, where it spits something out isn’t always where it was consumed. Hence, finding things where you’d least expect them after you’ve given up the search. Makes sense to me. Wow, that was scarey to admit.

    • Z Egloff August 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Jo,

      Yes, it is indeed a trippy, trippy Universe. With black holes and lost stuff and found stuff and it’s all a big frickin’ mystery how it all fits together. Except it sounds like maybe you’ve got an inside view on how it all works. I’ll come to you next time my socks get lost in the dryer. 😉


  3. Lynn Phelps August 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm #


    Thank-you soo much for your extra special way of teaching me tips on what’s real. :-)
    I LOVE reading your enlightening tips and adventures each week. Thank you

    Beckie and I are soooo excited to see you and Melissa Sunday.. can hardly sit still to type this LOL You two are grand human beings and we feel so blessed to have come across and stayed in your path. <3 :-)

    Thank-you soo much, with Love
    Lynn Phelps :-)

    • Z Egloff August 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Lynn,

      Well, I have to say: Melissa and I are ALSO so excited about this Sunday that it’s hard to sit still to type THIS. So there! We look forward to seeing you and Beckie and all the Sac crew very soon!! :)


  4. Karen Linsley August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I have given up the search for my Pocket Wizards. Those are little radio controlled gadgets that allow camera and my flash to talk to one another from great distances. I have no idea how I could have lost them. I have no idea where they could be but I’ve searched everywhere and am now waiting for them to appear where I least expect it. In the meantime I have others ways of allowing my camera and flash to speak to one another from great distances but the Pocket Wizards are my favorite. Plus I like the name.

    • Z Egloff August 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      Hi Rev. Karen,

      I have never heard of Pocket Wizards. They sound fun. They also sound extremely intelligent, so it’s actually not surprising that they’ve gone missing. I wonder what they’re up to. God only knows! So to speak. . . .


  5. Karen August 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    For sure — we’ve asked to find the missing item, and the Universe (who is extremely smart and keeps track of every darn thing) is orchestrating circumstances for us to rendezvous with our lost object. Then as we give up, we relinquish the struggle and frustration & get happy enough to manifest our desire — the lost lid, sock, earring, or bag of gold, even.

    This stuff works! And I think I hear the Brinks truck pulling up with my lost bag of gold. I knew it couldn’t stay away for long. :)

    • Z Egloff August 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      It really is amazing how everything works – life as a jigsaw puzzle, with never a lost piece. Maybe missing, but never lost.

      Hope you’re enjoying your found gold! :)


  6. Sauda August 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Your post is so funny Z! I can so relate! I find money every time I’m not looking for it! So glad you found your water bottle top. I’d be devastated too! I’m so attached to my water bottle.

    • Z Egloff August 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      Hi Sauda!!

      I know, those water bottles are so important, aren’t they? It’s amazing how much better I feel when I drink lots of water during the day. Hey, and that’s awesome that you find money all the time. Go you!! :)


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