notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Losing It (And Rediscovering It)

A few days ago I misplaced something in my own house.

It was a small stack of books. Five copies of my own novel that were earmarked for a giveaway on Goodreads. I had them. They were on the kitchen counter, right near the breadbox. They were there for days. And then I picked them up because I began to worry that they might get dirty, so near the breadbox – and the fridge. And the dog treats. And the amazingly agile high-jumping cats.

So I picked them up.

And then I couldn’t find them.

Oh my God, how I looked.

I remembered picking them up to protect them. I sort of remembered that it was about the same time I put away the Christmas presents. So I checked first with every Christmas present I put away. And then I checked where we keep the gift wrap and gift bags – since I probably put the good reusable stuff back there – I’m conscientious that way. Just not conscientious about whether I had books in my hand at the same time.

I checked in the box where I keep the copies of my first novel. I checked my “office” – the extra bedroom that I have made over as an art studio. And that room was NOT in good shape. But a lot of the stuff hanging around in there hasn’t been touched in a long time. Newer shit wouldn’t be under the older shit. Would it?

I checked every bookcase in the house. I could have put books in a bookcase. That would make sense.

I checked every shelf, every windowsill. Every flat surface and every surface that is not flat but could still hold shit if you balanced it just right.

I checked every cabinet. If I was seeking cat-protection, inside a cabinet would be a good place. Or inside a closet. I checked even the hallway closet, which contains coats and boots. Because ‘boots’ is only one letter away from ‘books’, and I could have been free-associating.

I checked the pantry. Maybe I was snacking when I put the books away, and I put down the books to get a cookie. That happens.

I checked inside boxes with Christmas decorations. Which would have been interesting, since I didn’t put up any Christmas decorations this year.

I checked all my bureau drawers. Did I fold the books inside a sweater?

I checked and checked and checked.

I checked in my head when I was supposed to be sleeping.

The following morning, I told my husband I was distraught. Which I am sure he did not know. Because I had been so calm and subtle about the whole thing. Especially that fifteenth time I said that I hated myself.

He escaped.

And I started to tear the house apart.

Three hours later I found them. In a box. Under the stash of copies of my other book.

How in the world does new shit end up under old shit?

But here’s the thing:

I was delighted.  I was happier than if I had never lost the books in the first place.

To found what was lost – it truly makes the found items so much more precious.

And of course, it made me contemplate more than just the Prodigal Son parable. Yes, that kid was pretty much of a disappointment, but Dad sure missed him when he was gone. And celebrated his return.

It made me consider how much we take for granted that we would miss if it were gone.

Years ago, my own Dad temporarily lost his senses of taste and smell. My happy-go-lucky father became a grouch. He realized how much pleasure you get from the taste and even the aroma of good food. How he celebrated the eventual return of that pleasure.

Maybe there are a few things we should “misplace” once in a while.  So when we finally rediscover our lost items, their return can be even more sweet, more precious.

A few that I can think of:

Old Friends. I have misplaced an old friend or two myself. Oh, but to see them again! Someone who you giggled with over your own secret jokes, someone whose hand-me-downs you shared, someone you learned about the world with, who knows how your bravery is all pretense.

Ambition.  I don’t mean, ‘I want to be a manager by the time I am 40’ type of ambition. I like to think of ambition as that unique combination of passion and perseverance.  When you love something so much you’ll put any amount of time into it, willingly, in order to see, to have, to tend your desire.  The rediscovery of that pure ambition invigorates your brain.

A Sense of Wonder.  Life can be pretty boring when you lose your sense of wonder. But there are so many ways to rediscover it. You can take photographs with your phone, for God’s sake. How does that even happen? Watch ducklings follow their mama. Who taught them to do that? Who made the first violin? Did that inventor plan on making the most beautiful sound in the world? What makes a pineapple look so spiky and yet taste so sweet? Don’t be in such a rush. Let awe overtake you. A sense of wonder invigorates your soul. Stop and look at the ceiling at Grand Central Station. You are not too busy to look up.

Speaking of looking up –

My cousin Jim took this time-lapse photography of the stars.

And come to think of it, my cousin fits all three of the above things that are easy to misplace, but oh so sweet to rediscover.

Jim’s an old friend. My cousin my own age who celebrated every holiday and birthday with me. Who knows the awkward and earnest, fragile and spunky, silly and serious kid I was. And I know the brilliant and shy, curious and kind, athletic and happy kid he was. And he is a man in possession of the very definition of ambition that I desire – that pairing of passion and perseverance – for Astronomy. From his earliest boyhood until now. More than sixty years of looking into telescopes because he needed to know what was out there.

Wonder is out there.

30 Comments

  1. When I began reading about your lost stack of books, I thought you were going to say that you’d found them in a spot where you’d already looked. I really do think that sometimes “little imps” hide things from us, then return them to their original place. It’s happened to me….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I had sort of looked there already. About six times. Just didn’t look deep enough. Over and over, not deep enough.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This drives me crazy when it happens. I’m still looking for my missing white out. 🙂

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  3. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabulous video. Glad you found the books. We lost things all the time on the boat, and there was literally nowhere to put anything!

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    • Ha! I can just imagine you searching the boat! I would start throwing things overboard!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was hysterical sometimes. Although the boat was 41 feet long, we only had about 30 of living space. There wasn’t a single drawer aboard, it was all cupboards, and they weren’t exactly big!

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  5. jono51

    It’s the story of the prodigal books. That kind of thing seems to happen more often so I am getting used to it.
    I just got up a little while ago and while looking at the stars out the bathroom window a meteor flew by! That NEVER happens. No one is awake here yet, so you are the first to know.

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    • I am honored to be the first to know. And I have never seen a meteor, so it’s truly special.

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  6. That is so maddening isn’t it? I lost my watch for a week which really upset me because my husband gave it to me. Found it quite accidentally in my dressing gown pocket. I was so happy to see it again.
    I love the star trails by the way. I look up at the Southern sky. i’m lucky enough to live in the country where you can see the stars and I would love to photograph them like that.

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    • My cousin went out to Oregon for the eclipse. As long as I have known him – which is all my life of course – he has had a passion for the sky. I love that about him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love it when I find money in a jacket pocket!

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    • Oh, isn’t that the coolest thing! And when it’s a FIVE instead of a single!

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  8. I consider it a win if I find something the same day even if it took 10 hours. I started to do “conscious placement.” (Gwyneth would be so proud!) It works about 20% of the time. We have also started a “stupid things we don’t know what they are but will need” box for small parts that just appear on the floor (compliments of the cats). As an example the little plastic plug in the bottom of our blinds or a shelf support (which means one shelf somewhere is balancing on three supports!). Finding a lost friend would be awesome although it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes there is a reason that they got “lost.” Finding hidden passions is the best! My passions change over time but that’s ok. New things to learn. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! The cats find random things all the time. One day they were playing with a little stuffed reindeer that I swear I have never seen in my life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes I think they sneak into the neighbor’s house and bring things home even though they can’t get outdoors. The secret life of cats. Or perhaps Theo brings gifts.

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  9. What a great read Nancy. Your blogs are awesome. They really get those of us who read and share them such a wonderful perspective on life, renewal of childhod & just such great memories. I am so glad to be one of those Old Misplaced Friends, after over 50 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was especially thinking of you when I wrote about old friends. We have to do it again soon!

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  10. Chris

    I love looking at the Grand Central Station ceiling – have to remember to do it every time I’m in the City.

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    • Even when I was rushing to a meeting, I always stopped in the middle of Grand Central and just LOOKED.

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  11. Love this post! First because losing (and sometimes finding) things like that is my life these days, and also the lesson you found in it. Plus the fantastic video! What a way to show the steadfastness of Polaris!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks… My cousin’s video just inspires me. And makes me think of him as a little boy with his first telescope.

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  12. Love this post and your definition of ambition. I hate it when I think “I will remember if I put it here” – doesn’t work reliably anymore. ARRGH.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I make notes sometimes… but then I can’t remember where I put the note!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It took me a while to find this (oh, the irony), but my mother had this sign on her desk in her office: “Those who keep a neat desk will never experience the incomparable joy of finding something they thought they had irretrievably lost.” It was something I had to claim as my own when we cleaned out my parents’ house for sale.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I liked that quote so much, I googled it to see if I could find the author. But no results. I will just have to love it as it is. That might be better.

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  14. Lost treasure hunts are a frequent occurrence around here, but the thrill of finding the lost item never diminishes.
    Your cousins stars are quite impressive. What an amazing way to spend your time. Searching the stars. It would be pretty hard to lose your sense of wonder looking at them all the time. Thanks for sharing them.

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    • I so admire my cousin’s passion, and I love to look at the night sky myself, though I have never been able to identify a single star or constellation. They are just a beautiful jumble to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. “…that fifteenth time I said that I hated myself” — wow, does that sound familiar. It’s moments like this that make me vow I’m going to declutter and REALLY get organized. Again. Yeah, right.

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