Nasruddin was walking around his yard, peering down at the ground and muttering to himself.
Nasruddin's wife came out and asked him, "Did you lose something?"
"I've lost my key," said Nasruddin.
"I'll help you look," said his wife.
Some time passed, and his wife was ready to give up. "Do you have any idea just where exactly you might have dropped it?" she asked.
"I dropped it somewhere in the basement," Nasruddin replied, not looking up.
"Then why are you looking for it out here?" she exclaimed.
"It's dark in the basement," Nasruddin said. "There's more light out here."
Inspired by: The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah, free to read online at the Idries Shah Foundation.
Notes: This is story 9 in the book. In some versions Nsaruddin has lost a ring or other small object, and his interlocutor is sometimes his neighbor, etc. This is one of the Sufi teaching stories that Idries Shah singles out for special consideration in his book The Sufis, which contains a long chapter about the use of Nasruddin stories for teaching purposes. Shah's book is available online here: Idries Shah Foundation. Compare the so-called streetlight effect; article at Wikipedia mentions Nasruddin! See also the Sufi story told of Rabia: Rabia's Needle.