I have often heard it said: “You always find something in the last place you look.”

I began to ponder this often-repeated adage - wondering – “What if I kept looking for something after I had found it? Would it then not actually be in the ‘last’ place I looked?

So to investigate this enigma, I began looking for a sought article in one other place, after having first located said article.

While this provided some light amusement for a brief time, it also provided a new comeback for those who would be impertinent enough to point out the old adage whenever I mentioned that I had lost something. It provided a bit of light banter and some meaningless debate on the saneness of such a course of action.

Alas, even with the whimsical respite this provided, its mystique faded quickly and left a void in my punacious sense of humor. I tired of the banter it provided and let it fade into relative obscurity, bringing it to the fore on those occasions when some previously unknown individual would spout the adage as if it were gospel.

It was relegated to the recesses of my mind where the inane notions, (some would opt to use; sick, twisted, tormented or garish), which comprised my personal sense of humor took seed and grew. There, from time to time it would offer itself for review and would be re-relegated to its haunts. I did, however, notice that each time it foisted itself upon my consciousness, it did so with greater and ever greater urgency.

Upon one occasion of the excursion to the forefront of my mind, It presented the argument: “What would happen if I continued to look for an article in several more places?” Just to test the idea, I would look for a found article in more places. I also started keeping a small notebook with me at all times and when I would begin to look for an item, I would note how many places I would investigate before said article was found. I would then consult the random number generator of my PHHCD (personal-hand-held-computation-device) and obtain a number for the remaining places I would need to search.

As one might expect, after a few weeks, I tired of the exercise and put the notebook in a desk drawer, turning to other avenues for my humor center to investigate. A few years later I happened onto the previously sequestered notebook while in a state of mental limbo. I was trying to think of new, and possibly more devious exercises to feed my humor center.

While perusing the notations I started to do some statistical analysis on the acquired data. I noticed that, statistically, the longer I continued to look for an article, after its initial discovery, the quicker the said article was found. Running this mathematical reasoning to its logical extreme, I hypothesized that by looking for an article long enough (e.g. approaching infinity), It would become likely that an item would be more and more likely to be found in the first place one looked.

Thereupon I set about looking for an article which I did not posses and which I was reasonably certain I would never be able to locate. Throughout all my waking hours, for each place I looked and everything I saw, I mentally checked to see if the article was present. Of course the article was never present and soon I had relegated the task of checking for the article to the subconscious part of my thought process.

After a few weeks of this subconscious searching routine, I began to notice strange occurrences. Generally I found myself finding articles that were lost by other people. I would see a stray kitten and around the corner, stapled to a utility pole I would see a poster of the lost kitten. I would retrieve the kitten and return it to its very grateful owner. I would find a wallet on the street and the following day read an ad for the wallet in the lost and found. I could list hundreds of such occurrences. Often, the owner of the lost property would offer a reward for my efforts. However, I had a strange feeling that always prevented me from taking anything other than profuse thanks.

After noticing the ever-increasing occurrences of these ‘find and return’ scenarios, it occurred to me that maybe I should stop the subconscious search for the non-existent article to see what effect that might have. After several days of catching myself looking for the article and re-resolving to stop the searching I was able to turn off that process. I noticed that I no longer found things with which I had no connection. It was actually a great relief. I could return to only looking for those things, which I personally sought. An interesting side effect of this whole experience seems to be that I no longer ever forget where I have placed something and hence, no longer have to search for things.

With time, I forgot all about the whole experience and experiment and went on living what I would consider to be my normal, everyday life, as it would be if I had never engaged in this experiment. The humor center was back to dreaming up elaborate practical jokes and ever more subtle puns, but with a more focused sense of purpose than I had previously possessed. Possibly a result of the experiment, possibly just the result of more years of experience and practice.

Many years after all this occurred and was all but forgotten, the whole experience came to mind once again. I mulled over the events that had taken place and began to wonder about other aspects not pursued. It was then that I wondered: “What would happen if I searched for an item I knew did not exist?”

There was a rather eardrum shattering bang, a blinding flash of light and I woke up to a whole New World. I immediately began to wonder what would happen if I were to search for a new univer ……….

Copyright 2007 Al Brown

Last updated December 29, 2010

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