Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Somebody Else's Panda
One time I was over at Chris's apartment and he showed me a spool of string he'd recently purchased. The string was very strong, almost like fishing line, but I remember it being a dark reddish brown color. The spool had two handles, perhaps so that it could be used as kite string. Neither of us knew what the string was really meant for, but Chris had bought it because it was "really cool to have a spool of really strong string".
Chris lived on the ninth floor of his apartment building, and he had a balcony that overlooked the parking lot. We decided that it would be neat to hurl something over the balcony, attached to the string, and then wind it back up. We selected a toy panda as the subject of our experiment. We attached a small red cape and then tied the end of the string around the panda firmly, and threw the panda off the balcony.
The panda landed probably 50 or 60 feet out from the base of the building. We then started to wind the panda back in. Once we took up the slack, the panda "stood up" on its hind legs, and "waddled" almost as if it was walking towards the building. This cracked us up, so we continued winding it in slowly so that it could "walk" all the way back to the base of the building.
At this point, a car drove into the parking lot and parked very close to the panda. Two people got out and walked towards the building. All the while the panda was walking right beside them. Somehow they managed to make it all the way back to the building without noticing the 1 1/2 foot tall panda walking less than ten feet away.
"An SEP," he said, "is something that we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem. That's what SEP means. Somebody Else's Problem. The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won't see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye."Life, the Universe, and Everything