Steve Andreas

A young soldier wakes up in his army barracks one morning and begins acting very strangely. He spends all his time searching, looking under, in, behind—everywhere—in an obsessive search for something. When his commanding officer asks what is going on, the soldier says, “Sir, I’m looking for a piece of paper.” “Did you lose it?” “No, sir.” “What is it?” “I don’t know, sir.” “Well, what does it look like?” “I don’t know, sir.” After a lot of fruitless questioning like this, the officer gives up. Meanwhile the soldier keeps searching everywhere.

Finally, after a few days of this incessant searching, the officer sends the soldier over to the psychiatrist who asks, “Well, what seems to be the problem?” Again the soldier says “Well, I’m trying to find a piece of paper.” As the psychiatrist asks him questions, the soldier goes through all the papers on the psychiatrist’s desk, looks in the waste basket, on the shelves, under the rug, and so on. He continues to search everywhere for the paper, incessantly. Finally after several days of this, the psychiatrist gives up and says, “Well, son, I think the Army’s been a little too rough on you. I think we had better give you a psychiatric discharge.” He fills out the discharge form, and as the hands it over, the soldier says excitedly, “There it is!

Steve Andreas, Transforming Your Self: Becoming Who You Want to Be, Moab, Utah, 2002, p. 26