The other night my niece and I were busy looking at one of those search and find books. It was an animal version of Where’s Waldo. The kind where there are pictures of various animals hidden in a cutesy animal scene. We looked for 10 manatees, 7 macaws, 9 sea urchins. When compared to the animals in the typical Minnesota backyard they were very different. Which made me wonder if small children in Austrailia see pictures of black bears, whitetail deer and skunks and think what strange and wonderful creatures exist on the other side of the world.
As we turned the page we came to a particularly challenging image containing a bunch of birds, worms and 10 small snails. We searched for a while counting and recounting the snails on the page. Every time we counted we would find nine, but one measly snail eluded the both of us. The worms were found with ease, the sparrows no problem, but the blasted snails did want to be found. First my niece would count how many were found and then I would go back and confirm only nine snails.
After what seemed like an hour of searching (reality showed more like 10 minutes) the last snail still avoided being spotted. I became obsessed with finding that last blasted snail. All else in my life ceased to exist and all I was looking for was a round shelled mollusk hiding somewhere in a lovely English garden scene. Still no luck. My niece’s attention was starting to wane and she had moved on to the next animal in the line up which she found no problem. I on the other hand still scanned for the snail. My dog started to scratch at the door in an attempt to let me know she had to go out side. I ignored her, finding the snail was more interesting. I glanced up momentarily from the book to see my dogs sweet brown eyes looking back at me. I decided that after I found the snail I would let her out. My dog didn’t care if I found the snail or not, she wanted to go outside and outside now. She walked back over to the door and continued to swat at it in an effort to gain my attention.
My dog’s attention gaining attempts failed, I was still too focused on that last snail to care about the condition of her bladder. She could wait until I finished my search for the snail. Meanwhile, my niece had finished finding all the other animals on the page and she was now wanting me to turn to the next page. Despite my best efforts to tell her we needed to find the last snail she told me it was no big deal and we should turn the page. I finally agreed and turned the page. The dog was let out to water the lawn and peace returned to the upstairs of my house.
There are times in all of our lives where we start to focus in on the small things that in reality aren’t all that important. We start to fixate on the little thing others do to annoy us while forgetting about all they do to make us happy. It is important to realize what issues are worth fixating on and what issues can be ignored. Sometimes finding a new lesson in life is much more important than finding that tenth snail. Just ask my dog.