It's an interesting feeling when something is right under your nose, yet you refuse to acknowledge its scent.
We moved into our new house in January, and I've often boasted about how in the first week I had opened every box to at least put eyes on its contents. Don't get me wrong; I've got plenty of boxes that are neatly stored on shelves, prompting the question of whether I need that stuff that's in there. But I at least opened every box. I thought.
There was one medium-sized box, those orange ones that are too small to ask for help carrying but too big to move gracefully. It was marked "Legos." Yes, we Lego, and no we don't have kids yet. Adult Legos are legit.
Anyway, I knew the box had our Legos in there because I packed said box. I was sure there was nothing else in there. Why would I cram other stuff in with the Statue of Liberty, bouquet of flowers, bonsai tree and half-done "Seinfeld" set and have them break off into their virgin pieces?
I also knew I was missing my placemats. Ones my husband got for us when he was in Myanmar documenting the work of a medical nonprofit.
Over the last six months, I'd periodically re-search the opened boxes and subsequently revisit the same defeat. I knew I packed them.
I finally opened that Lego box in a search for something to do this weekend and add some more decorative elements to the house. And there they were. Two placemats, handmade and sentimentally sourced for our home.
In that box I found two placements, two lessons.
One is an idea journalists are taught but must practice retaining and honing every day.
The other we all should heed but often find it hard to put into practice. That second practice is often associated with the "definition of insanity," a quote most often misattributed to Albert Einstein: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Tangent: According to multiple online sources, the quote appears in "The Ultimate Einstein Quotables," published by Princeton University Press, but it appears in the "misattributed" section. It is often sourced to 1983's "Sudden Death" by Rita Mae Brown but also is sourced to a slightly different version found in a Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet that printed in 1981. I digress.)
If something isn't working, stop doing it. We're trying to do that here in local news by prioritizing a journalism and business model that is user-centric. We're trying to drive our coverage and the delivery of that coverage, whether that's in print, online, via video, on social media or in a podcast, based on listening to our audiences' and customers' needs and acting on what we hear, and we're trying to do all that while making this independently, family-owned business sustainable and accessible to as many people as possible. This is the hard one.
So maybe we should all start with the simpler action. If you are looking for something — physically, mentally or spiritually — open every box until you find it. In the local news world, that mindset compels us to look for truth, make that extra phone call, check our suspicions, and never assume. To listen. Be fair.
I hope you open the box. Find the thing. Complete the "Seinfeld" Lego set.