This essay is part of an 8-minute memoir challenge hosted by Ann Dee Ellis.
Day 11: Losing Things
When I was in high school, I lost an important paper. It had something to do with college admissions or something else that was really crucial in my life at the time. I was so upset, and so I said a prayer to ask for help. When no help came, I went to bed.
In my sleep, I dreamed about going to a chest in my room and picking up a pile of papers sitting on top of it. When I woke up, the dream was fresh on my mind, and it seemed important. So I went to the chest in my room and found a pile of papers — just like in my dream.
I thought I might find my missing paper there, but… plot twist! As I picked up the papers, something else caught my eye in another part of the room. When I followed it, I found my missing paper on the other side of the room as the chest.
I’ve always thought it was funny that I was led somewhere that would seem like an obvious place for my missing paper, only to be directed somewhere else. But that’s just the way I get answers — in very roundabout ways.
That experience has stuck with me, and I believe dreams and prayers can lead you to what you’re looking for.
But even though I lost that important document, I really didn’t lose things very often when I was growing up. My childhood home was incredibly organized, and I could find almost anything I needed — whenever I needed. My parents, unfortunately, didn’t pass their extreme organization skills onto me, but I do know that I’m much more organized than I would be if I hadn’t grown up in their house.
So, even though I moved seven times and had more than 20 roommates during four years of college, I really never lost much. Losing things just didn’t happen all that often. (Except for my purple lawn chair. Who has my purple lawn chair?)
Now, I share a home with at least two people who have ADHD. One of the common symptoms of ADHD is distractibility. Distractibility, in our house, translates to missing items.
A lot of missing items.
Keys. Wallets. Piano books. Backpacks. Shoes. Coats.
Oh, the pens! I can’t tell you how many times I have a thought that needs writing down rightthisinstant, only to find that my pen jar is EMPTY. By the time I track down a pen (normally under a certain child’s bed, rug, or pile of clothes next to the laundry hamper), I’ve forgotten what I needed to write.
So I guess I’m beginning to lose things too — the things in my mind.
It’s frustrating. But as more and more things go missing in my life, I find I care less and less about things. Things are things. They come and go (and in my house, they go, go, go), and so I attach less and less value to them.
When I first got married, I kept everything. I could always imagine a future moment when I would desperately need my college laundry bag or the kitchen utensil we didn’t even know the name of, and so nothing could be discarded.
But as my favorite pens have been lost (it’s really a sore subject, I guess), my coziest sweaters have disappeared, and board games have vanished into thin air, I just don’t care anymore.
We’ll come up with creative replacements, or we’ll realize we never needed them in the first place. Basically, we’ll get by without the things.
I like my shift in thinking. It brings me more happiness to care less about objects. I relax more when my mind isn’t occupied with fears of: what-will-happen-if-we-get-rid-of-this-and-need-it-in-19-years?.
Funny that I had to begin losing important things only to discover they aren’t so important after all.
I’ve always learned things in a roundabout way, anyway.
(But pens are important. Pens are life. And where the heck are they?)