Sunday, November 28, 2010

Have You Ever Lost Something Valuable?

"Valuable" is in the eye of the beholder and subject to interpretation. We've all lost something we considered valuable; however, I am referring to things we can live without. In other words, losing a loved one in death shouldn't fall into this discussion, because at times the death of someone we loved can seem almost too much to bear.

In the fifties, my mother lost the beaters to her electric mixer, the big kind that sits on a stand. She'd had the mixer for several years, and she used it almost every day. She had all three of us girls searching everywhere we could think of. One of us said, "You threw them in the trash by accident. That's the only explanation left." She would never, ever accept that. She'd say, "No, I would never do that." And even twenty years later, she'd wonder, "What happened to those beaters?"

My husband and I at separate times have lost our matching wedding rings. I wrote an entire blog about that a few months ago. I remember how we felt, thinking we'd never find them, but we did. In retrospect, though, we could have lived without them. Our marriage wouldn't tarnish, nothing in our life would change, and we'd manage just fine. We might have even bought new rings if we hadn't found them.

Last Christmas, my husband bought a beautiful pen and pencil set for me. Really, this set is special, very beautiful, as well as practical. I keep them on top of my desk, to the left, at the base of my little blue lamp. One day I noticed the automatic pencil to the set was not there. I began to search. Did it fall into the nearby trashcan? Did it roll off the desk and under my dresser? Is it in a drawer? A pocket? I went through every single thing in the room to no avail. When had I used it last? Could I have taken it to the hall desk where I have two built-in bookshelves? Could it be anywhere in the desk? I consulted my husband. Did you borrow my pencil? Is it anywhere in your office, on your desk, in your closet?

He and I searched the entire house, opening everything that could be opened. Bottom line, we scoured the house--and the vehicles--until we could not think of any other possible place to look.

I searched off and on for days. He said he'd buy a new set for me.

No, I said, I want this set--just like my mother wouldn't accept the fact those beaters were gone.

But he began searching for another set anyway. When he found one he thought I'd like, and before he ordered the set, he sat down with me and said: "That pencil did not disappear into thin air. It's in this house somewhere. Now, think. What were you doing when you last used it?" I couldn't remember, of course, but I kept thinking about the hall desk. "I think I looked up a phone number, and the book is on the first bookshelf."

He said, open it--see if you left it in there. Nope. No pencil. While we stood in the hallway where this little desk is built into the wall, he reached up and pulled down a book, one I use often. He said, "Look." Sticking out at the top, between the pages, was about an inch of that pencil. Then I remembered having the book on my desk, open, and using the pencil to take notes. I have a habit of laying a pen or pencil in the groove of the open book. He's taller and saw it, but I couldn't unless I stood on tiptoes.

Would you believe that I cried? But really, would the loss of the pencil have changed my life? No.

Sometimes I think we waste too much time remembering and regretting something we've lost.
A rejected manuscript.
A friendship.
A connection with a family member.
An opportunity.
An entire unproductive morning.
A chance for success.
A visit with someone before it's too late.
An unfinished project.
A lost love.
A misspent youth.

How do you handle the loss of something important to you?
I hope during this holiday season, before 2011, that you and I will evaluate our lives, accept that which we cannot regain, clear our hearts and minds, and move on.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

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  1. Celia,
    You are so right. It's senseless to dwell on what's lost. It's better to concentrate on what's important.

    That said, it's hard sometimes not to mourn my lost youth. When I get into that kind of mood, I tell myself to cherish what I have and enjoy it.

    About dreams - I still haven't given up on all of them. That goes with the territory of being a writer.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Celia,
    I'm glad you found the pencil. Sometimes, it's not the fact that something is "lost" but the fact that you have no idea how it got lost that is most upsetting. You're right, though. In the end, it's a waste of time to dwell on what we no longer, even if it's our misspent youth. :-)

  3. Your post reminded me of this little saying...

    The things you used to care to do,
    You no longer care to do,
    but you really do care
    that you don't care to do them anymore.

    If I suffer a loss that effects me emotionally,I usually make a list of all my blessings. It doesn't take long to put things in perspective.
    Glad you found you pen. You wouldn't happen to know where I put my stapler?

    Adelle Laudan

  4. Celia, your wrap-up is great: "accept that which we cannot regain, clear our hearts and minds, and move on." I find that easier to do as I get older. Nice thoughts.

  5. Celia, I so understand what you are saying, and during one very low time in my life I came across this ->

    The Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.

    --Reinhold Niebuhr

    I may not alway remember the whole prayer but I do try to keep the opening stanza in my mind when I feel particularly vexed.

  6. Glad you found your pencil!

    I'm hoping we'll still find my husband's wedding ring but with all the leaves and rain we've had, it looks doubtful. He didn't realize he lost it at first so it could be anywhere in the yard, garden or barn area.

    It's hard to lose something special, but we can't dwell on the loss of a material thing. Other things are more important in life.

  7. Celia, I think this is your best post ever! You are so wise in your outlook. The most monetarily valuable thing I've ever lost is the set from my engagement ring. Of course it was NOT insured. This was while I was a newspaper reporter and had covered a garden wedding. The chances of finding it in a St. Augustine lawn were nil. The hosts helped me try, though. They even went out the next morning while the dew was out to see if the sunlight would highlight it. No such luck. But that was only a stone, not the love it represented. I love that Sherry included all of Niebuhr's poem/prayer. One seldom sees the second part.

  8. Unfortunately, I get very irritable when I can't find something I just "know" was there an hour, a day, a week ago, but after thoroughly searching where it might be, I am good at letting it go. I think the thing that affects me the most when I lose it is jewelry, because of its ties to a certain person or occasion. Great post, Celia.

  9. MORGAN-where would we be without our dreams? I can give up my youth, but like you--I won't give up on my dreams. Thank you for your great comment. Celia

  10. KEENA--that's a good point. The mystery of "where is it?" may be the most troubling thing. Years ago,someone went into our workshop in the back and took a lawn mower and a weed eater. There was a brand new small Sony TV that he could have easily carried,too. But we've wondered all these years--who took our things? It was that mysterty that mattered most--not the loss of two used items. Celia

  11. I'm glad you found your pencil, also. I have an engraved pen and pencil set with my grandma's name on them. I won't ever use them, though. I have them as a memory of how proud she was to have her name engraved on several sets that she shared with us.

    I think it's the memory of the gift, as Liana said, that matters much more than the thing.

    The one I remember most is the top of a little heart dish that got lost (tossed out with the paper) during one of our moves years ago. I'm still sad to have lost it, as Mom hand made that little dish for me when I was very little. But, the memory of it still remains, along with the bottom part.

  12. ADELLE--now, I love that saying! And how true it is. Counting our blessings is something we all should do more often, instead of worrying about what we lost. No, I haven't seen your stapler!Celia

  13. Thank you so much, Connie. I appreciate that. And thanks for stopping by--Celia

  14. Sherry--I'm like Caroline--I'm glad you posted the entire pledge. It's quite meaningful, isn't it. I, too, like the first line--it's easy to remember and very usefull for everyone. Celia

  15. DIANE--I thought about your husband's ring and started to include it in my post. But it's not my story to tell. I do wish he'd find that ring. I have a feeling he will! Thanks for coming by--Celia

  16. CAROLINE--how kind of you to say that. I, too, was glad Sherry posted the entire pledge--we all know the first line.
    Someone might have been very surprised to find a diamond in that yard. That would have been fun to see. I wish you'd found it, but like you said--it only represented your love. Thank you for visiting--Celia

  17. Thank you, Liana. I usually don't lose things--so this just drove me crazy, knowing it was somewhere in the house. It had to be. I would have discovered it eventually, because it was in a book I use often. Celia

  18. Celia, what a poignant topic. I think we've all lost things at one point in our lives. I'm glad you found your pencil. I almost lost something very important to me and I had to make the toughest decision of my life. This "something" was my marriage. Brent stayed in CA to go to college in 1995 and I went sent to Germany for two years. The time apart really played havoc with us so in 1997, I made the choice to get out of the army and work on my marriage. It was the toughest but smartest choice I ever made.

    Nowadays it's about the kids. Joe is forever losing his DS games, his shoes, his trains... Thank goodness I have Andrew to help look for them!


  19. LORAINE--I wouldn't use something like that, either. I love my keepsakes and they stay in a safe place. The top to the dish--that's not replaceable, and it's sad you lost it. I understand.Celia

  20. STEPH--thanks for sharing that--I know it's probably not easy to discuss. The paper is full of stories like yours these days, since so many females are joining the Army. It's got to be the toughest thing in the world to leave your family. I'm so proud of you for making that decision--you did the right thing.
    What you almost lost makes the tangible things we've lost seem like dust in the wind.

  21. Celia, my paternal grandmother used to pray St. Anthony when she lost something, saying: St. Anthony, give us back what doesn't belong to you. And she always found the missing article. I lost my diamond ring once in a yard covered with dead leaves and found it three days later at night while kicking the leaves. As I got older, and I hope wiser, I don't value material things as much as I value feelings and accomplishment.

  22. MONA--love the story about your grandmother. I think that's true for the most part with all of us as we get older. I don't care as much about material things--new furniture, updating a kitchen, etc.--as I did 20 years ago. Now, what I have is just fine. And I try to keep the friends I have--I'm too old to start making new ones. Celia

  23. Celia - Great post. I feel the same about losing things. For me, it isn't the item but the fact that I don't know where it is. Losing my mind? Perhaps. I do get upset about some lost opportunities, especially when they involve people. The opportunity to say "I love you" or "great job." We do have the power to take those opportunities. I'll be thinking about this all night.

  24. Thank you, aarbaugh--You've nailed it--it's the fact we don't know where it is--not especially that we've lost it. You've mentioned something no one else has--the lost opportunities to say "I love you" or "great job." How very true, and so touching. I will remember this--Celia