One of my favorite parts to the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series was the description of the S.E.P. field. Arthur and Ford (two of the main characters) are searching for a way to get back home and Ford spots a spaceship, but Arthur can’t see it. Ford is pointing straight at it, but Arthur just sees an empty field. Ford goes on to explain that the spaceship has an S.E.P. field around it. “S.E.P. ?” Arthur asks, not understanding. “Somebody Else’s Problem field, it’s a field that hides things from people because they don’t think they have to worry them.” explains Ford.
I’ve always loved this idea. Whenever I run into problem at work I explain we just need to put an S.E.P. field around it and we won’t have to worry about it any more. I laugh and the people around me stair blankly wondering what’s wrong with me. What’s wrong with me is a topic for another, probably much longer, post. But for this one, let’s stick to the concept of the S.E.P. field.
Our minds are incredible focus engines. We can drill down on a specific problem and think the heck out of it. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that enables us to survive by focusing specifically on the thing that’s preventing us from continuing to exist. Whether that be a search for food, or the search for a way to avoid becoming food. We can focus down to the specific problem at hand and work on it till our neurons bleed, making sure we’ve solved it.
This can become very problematic when we live in a super complex world that’s constantly presenting us with unsolvable problems. Or at the very least problems that lend to misdirection and slight of hand. Problems that appear to be one thing, but are in fact another. In other words when someone says, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”, it may be a good time to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
I’m not saying we have to seek out more problems than we already have. In fact we may want to lose focus on the problems we’re already drilling down into. It’s quite possible that the main thing that has your knickers in a twist, is in fact not a problem you even need to worry about. It’s possible if you shift your focus to the corner of your eye and look for the metaphorical spaceship hiding behind the SEP field, that you’ll find your problem is already solved and you neednt’ have worried at all.
It’s also useful to look for the hidden aspects of our universe, because we tend to be the ones that hide things from ourselves. Meaning that as we learn about how we think the world works, we make assumptions about what that means and start to exclude possibilities. In effect we decide by inference how the world doesn’t work.
I heard this quote recently, “The opposite of a lie is a profound truth. But the opposite of a profound truth, may in fact be another profound truth.” (Manhattan the TV Series). This can be taken to mean that just because you’ve found an aspect of truth, that doesn’t imply that everything else is a lie. You need to keep your eyes and your mind open for the next profound truth.
If you have found a truth you are not at the end, only the beginning.
If you can’t see the path forward, you may need to look at it sideways.
The solution may just be hidden in an S.E.P field.