I have a confession to make. I lost something. It wasn’t just something, it was a handmade gift. I didn’t lose the whole thing, just one quarter of it, but without that one quarter, it wasn’t just incomplete, it wasn’t whole. I felt terrible. This was so unlike me, I’m quite careful about such things. You could even say compulsive. Perhaps even anal.
I became aware of my loss when my cousin, an artist, last visited. We got onto the topic of skulls as art, and ethnic and tribal art over lunch. I mentioned that my son’s former girlfriend was an artist and had made and given to me, as a gift, four hand etched tiles that, when placed together, made a skull. When we returned to the house, I went upstairs to retrieve the tiles from where they are carefully displayed on my small bookcase by my window to show my cousin. I have them stacked, dead in the center. The bookcase is out of the way and doesn’t get much traffic, so, doesn’t get bumped or knocked. I figured it would be a safe location for the tiles. When I took them downstairs to spread out onto the kitchen table, there were only three tiles. I ran back upstairs and looked and looked and looked for the fourth tile. I looked behind the bookcase, in case the tile had fallen. I looked all around the bookcase and even inside the books to make sure it hadn’t fallen between two, or within one. No tile. My mom was pretty insistent that it must be on the floor behind the bookcase, but I’d looked, and it wasn’t. The tiles are heavy enough that I couldn’t imagine the lace curtain on the window next to the bookcase, even in a hurricane force wind, being capable of knocking a tile off the top of the bookcase. I was certain that, in my move, I’d neglected to unwrap the tile from the U-Haul wrapping paper I buy, by the box, with each and every relocation. I know I’d wrapped the tiles with my other “treasures”, usually the last things to get packed, and after riding in my car or in the front seat of the moving van, they are the first to get unloaded and the first to get unpacked. I rooted through a couple of boxes still lingering around, but found no tile. I was now afraid I’d tossed the tile out with some of the wrapping paper. I felt a little sick.
I considered sending a Facebook message to the artist and giver of the gift, telling her of my loss and asking her if she could recreate the one tile, for which I’d be happy to pay. I delayed. Or procrastinated. Or chickened out. I felt careless. As I said, this is not like me. I’m quite particular about such things, and I have considerable experience moving, I just don’t lose things in the process of moving. I mean, you should see how I pack and label boxes, you’d understand.
The other day, weeks after the discovery of my loss, after wine tasting, so a little buzzed, I was rooting around behind a small, upholstered chair, in my room, near the bookcase I had the tiles on. I was in search of something unrelated. I keep caboodles and other tidy containers of things like hair accessories and gloves, sunglasses and nail polish, under the chairs, out of sight, but close at hand. There, on the floor, behind the chair, upside down, was the missing tile, unbroken. Intact. I was so relieved, I did a little happy dance and reunited the piece with the rest of the set, which had been moved to another location, further from the window. The tiles are now spread out rather than stacked, defeating, or at least mitigating, the force of gravity that apparently displaced the reclaimed tile.
What other things of value have we lost? Whether out of neglect, carelessness, or just with the passage of time. Are there things in life we’ve lost that we’d dearly love to find, to reclaim, a treasure of some sort? Not knick-knacks or pieces of art, not tangible items, but things more valuable, things that are, perhaps even, priceless. Perhaps our self-confidence, our ability to trust, faith, our health, love, our purpose, our ability to forgive, hope, our energy, enthusiasm, passion, courage, our integrity, our inspiration, motivation, our self-esteem.
Like the tile, we may not even realize what’s missing until we need it, until we go in search of it. The discovery of our loss, though far greater in magnitude than my tile, will cause a sense of panic, of confusion and even sorrow and despair. We will wonder how we could have displaced something of such value, something that money cannot replace.
We will spend time trying to figure out how, or even if, we can possibly regain what has been lost. We may feel despair at the thought, or, in some cases, the certainty, that it cannot. At this point, many falter and resign to the loss. Then, and only then, does the loss become real and certain.
Recognizing the loss is our first step. Coming to terms with it helps us begin to take the steps to find what once was ours. We can begin to plan, to set goals, to move in the direction of restoration. We can find our inspiration, foster our motivation. Be assured, that once we have found again what was lost, whether self-confidence, our ability to trust, faith, our health, love, our purpose, our ability to forgive, hope, our energy, enthusiasm, passion, or our self-esteem, it may seem different than in its original form, it will likely be much better. At the very least, we will have a better appreciation and more respect for it. We will take better measures to safeguard it, to care for it, to keep it, much like the tiles on my shelf.
What once was lost, now is found. What you have lost, you too can find, you need only to keep searching, it’s there, I assure you.