You Can’t Find What Isn’t There

Many people who read this blog may know that I am a fan of the Harry Potter series [1].  A couple of times I have taken the test for Pottermore and though the questions were somewhat different each time, in both occasions I ended up being considered to be a Hufflepuff.  In the Harry Potter universe, among the schools of Hogwarts, Hufflepuffs are considered to be not particularly bright students who are hard-working and immensely persistent.  Their house is not explored at great depth and the few people we see from that house are viewed as being decent and kind people, but not particularly brainy, since brainy people most often end up in Ravenclaw, or, if they are particularly courageous, Gryffindor, or particularly and darkly ambitious, Slytherin.  All of the houses are seen as having good sides and bad sides, but Hufflepuff seems the least deep of the lot.  Anyway, among the qualities the people of this house are expected to have, and the reason I bring it up, is that they are known for finding things.  If something can be found, they are the sort of people who can be expected to find it.

Last night, just after I got home from dinner and as I was settling down to read, write, and enjoy a lazy evening, I got a call from my pastor explaining that there was a bit of a crisis in a lost or misplaced box of cell phones that were needed for the end of summer camp today, and that they absolutely had to be found last night.  Apparently I was the only person who was quick to answer my phone, and so I agreed to drive over to his place and look for them, which then led to what can only be termed as a comedy of errors, involving trying not to trip over mewling kittens who were a bit timid, trying to stumble around in the dark finding light switches, and tearing into a garage and looking all over a house for a blue container with some tape on it that said cell phones.  Frequently, as I was unsuccessfully searching all over the place for this, in everywhere I could look, through opening larger boxes and containers and pouring through their contents hoping that the sheriff’s deputies would not come and ask me awkward questions about why I was here and what I was doing, I would receive reminders that finding the cellphones was of the utmost importance.  Knowing not a few of the campers myself, I was painfully aware of how important cell phones are to them given their own regular behavior, taking adorable selfies and chatting with friends and all that.  The urgency of the matter led the pastor’s wife to begin a drive back to the house as well to assist in the search, as maybe I was not searching hard enough or well enough, given the seriousness of the situation.  At some point, though, after about an hour of searching, I received a call that told me the container had been found in a place where it shouldn’t have been.  I had a shrewd idea as to where this might be, and I was somewhat mollified with the offer of a drink for my pointless searching, so I drove home.

For some reason, this experience struck me as particularly Nathanish.  For one, there was a great deal of urgency and frustration and awkwardness in the task.  For another, the task was strictly impossible.  I was looking for something that wasn’t there, and so no matter how hard I searched for it, it was not going to be there at all.  In the sermonette today, the speaker briefly discussed some lessons from a popular business book Who Moved My Cheese?, and the lesson was that one had to move and search around for cheese.  This discussion, though, made several assumptions, including the assumption that there was cheese to be found in the maze.  Sometimes, there is nothing to find at all.  Sometimes, no matter how diligently one is going through looking, what one is looking for simply is not to be found, and the fault is not in the searcher, but in the terrain itself.

One of my favorite pastimes is playing strategy games.  Among the games I have spent a great deal of time playing is the series of Civilization games.  In this game, you play the dictator of a civilization starting from the bottom, in the stone age, and making various choices about cities, settling, diplomacy, and warfare as time progresses from about 4000BC to around 2000AD.  Among the most pivotal parts of the game is the matter of resources, as there are some military units that one can build only with resources, and there are other resources that make one’s people happier and that allow for trade with other nations.  There are some world maps that have many abundant resources and others that have very few, and sometimes in the games, as in life, one can search and search and never find.  In many ways, this world is constructed as a sort of game.  To be sure, it is a complicated game, but it is set up nonetheless, and rewards and encourages certain behaviors.  Sometimes, as in gaming at casinos, though, the game is not rigged in your favor.  Such is the life, sometimes.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to You Can’t Find What Isn’t There

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