Losing what’s important

September 24, 2010 by · 25 Comments 

billys notebookMy notebook is somewhere. That, I know. And I also know that wherever it is, my pen will be with it. And my glasses. The fact that if I find one of those items I will find all three should make things easier, but it isn’t.

To make matters worse, I’ve been looking for my notebook and my pen and my glasses for three hours now. That’s 180 minutes of trying and failing, just enough to do some serious damage to one’s self-esteem. I wouldn’t be worried about it—I lose stuff all the time—but this is sort of important. My notebook contains everything from marketing plans for my first novel to revisions from my editor for my second to notes for my third. And I can’t read anything without my glasses. And I really like that pen.

I’ve looked everywhere, too. In my office and in my truck and on the dining room table. On the coffee table and the in the bedroom and on top of the dryer (which has somehow been designated as the family’s Lost and Found spot).

Nowhere. Gone.

I’m not panicking. That’s the first rule we’re taught when we lose something—Don’t worry about it, it’ll turn up. That’s mostly true. Like I said, I lose stuff all the time. Keys especially. My Blackberry. I lost the 1957 Micky Mantle baseball card my father gave me for Christmas. And once for a very scary five minutes, I even lost my son in Target.

Found them all of course, and in reasonably short order. Which makes me believe that I’m not necessarily losing my memory, it just shorts out from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that more often than not, it’s the important things we lose? Things like keys and cell phones and kids? I have to my knowledge never lost a pencil. Ever. Same goes for junk mail and rubber bands. Which leads me to believe the things that really don’t matter will always be around, but I have to keep an eye on what’s valuable. They may sneak off from time to time without my knowing.

Sounds a little backwards, I know.

I think I’m a little careless with my important things sometimes. I take for granted they’ll be there when I need them. I can be rough with them, too. Not because I mean to, but because I know they’re not going anywhere. And then, of course, they do. I misplace them for the simple reason that I didn’t think I ever could.

I’m not alone here. Just the other day I spent an hour helping a neighbor go through boxes of old pictures so he could find the first one ever taken of him and his wife together. He was going to have it blown up and framed for their coming anniversary. “I know it’s here somewhere,” he said. That may have been true, but we never did find it.

Yesterday my wife lost a thumb drive full of students’ grades that she uses every day.

And just a few hours ago, my parents called wondering if I knew where the key to their shed was.

Blame it on the busyness of our lives, I suppose. There’s always so much to do and keep up with. Everything becomes important, and so nothing is.

My son just peeked around the corner and asked if I was busy. When he walked into my office, he was holding my notebook and glasses. He sat down on my lap and stared at my computer screen and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was writing about how we all lost things sometimes and we’re always told not to get worried about it but maybe we should a little.

“What’d you lose, Daddy?”

“That notebook in your hands.”

“You didn’t lose it,” he says, “I was just keeping it safe for you.”

Good. I need people to help me keep the important things in my life safe. It’s too easy to wander away from them or let them wander away from me.