A few months ago my mother loaned me the book, "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life," by Scott Adams. No, that wasn't a not-so-subtle hint that I needed to get my s*** together. While my mother doesn't approve of my occasional use of profanity, she is incredibly supportive of me and doesn't think I'm failure, overall. But she does know that I spend a lot of time contemplating failure, and apparently so does Scott Adams, so she started reading the book and passed it onto me before she had a chance to finish it.
Big mistake. I lost it as soon as I brought it home.
For months the book lay hidden somewhere in my tiny studio apartment, mocking me from the shadows. Mom asked me about it a few times and I had to own up to my carelessness. I try not to lose things, I really do, but it seems like most of my things just prefer to wander away by themselves, unencumbered by my ownership and mastery of their inanimate existence. I don't blame them. If I were a book, I'd probably hide too. What self-respecting book wants to be dogeared, smudged, marked-up, and finally snapped with a broken spine because the reader is too lazy to hold the pages apart with their own two hands?
I finally discovered the book a few days ago. It was curled and wrinkled from exposure to humidity or the de-humidifier or poltergeists or other invincible forces that lurk in my basement apartment. I had very sensibly placed it in a magazine rack, only to forget that the rack ever existed. This is why I can't have nice things.
I lose things a lot, but most of the time, I find them again. The most amazing story of losing and finding that I've ever experienced happened when I was about seven years old. I was playing with my Barbies in the front yard when I lost my birthstone ring. It was an amethyst stone set in gold, and it was a precious gift from my mother. I loved that ring, but so did my Barbies because it made an excellent tiara, and that was the ring's undoing. The purple stone disappeared into the green grass, and not a flash of gold appeared through the blades even when I shined a flashlight on them. For the next few days I periodically searched the grass, and only gave up after it had been mowed. I believed that it was gone forever.
Then, a few months later, I found the ring in the grass, right where I had left it. Somehow it had escaped the lawnmower and the elements and the magpies. Today I wear it on a necklace next to an uncut amethyst stone. It is a symbol of what is lost and what is found, what is raw and what is polished.
All things come and go. Most things -- especially the important things -- eventually turn up again. People, on the other hand -- well, they can be gone forever. Which do you treasure more? Which do you seek after most? Which will make you saddest when it is lost?
While you think about that, I'm going to get back to reading this book I found.