On finding that which is lost

I hate losing things. I am forgetful and absentminded, so from time to time, my things go missing. I’ve lost, at various times, keys, wallets, shoes, jackets, bills, letters, hats, gloves, watches, pants (don’t ask), money, check book, eye glasses, sun glasses, umbrellas, Ipod, socks, candy, pens, maps, my way. You can imagine, then, that I am also an expert in finding lost things since I have so much practice in this art. I am an expert in tracking a lost item through my house, into my car, across town, past my office, and into the lost-and-found in the business school or wherever it might end up. I have found things that I never knew were lost in the first place. When looking for that which is lost, one must always imagine that the object is in a place that you never imagined it could occupy–that’s why it’s lost. There is a certain ironic irrationality to lost items which makes them doubly hard to find—you would never expect them to hide in the refrigerator, or in the sofa, or behind the stove, under the recycling, or in the dirty clothes hamper. I especially hate it when lost things find their way into random pocket on jackets that have not been out of the closet in years. Particularly painful are documents which you have accidentally thrown away, such as passports, birth certificates. The state of being lost is always accompanied by the emotion of loss. When an object goes missing–an engagement ring, for example–the involved parties immediately go into panic mode which is quickly replaced by a sense of loss and mourning and sadness. Although possessions may be replaced, we often develop an emotional attachment to those objects which accompany us on a daily basis–keys, wallet, glasses, phone, rings–even though that attachment is irrational and unfounded. The objects we carry will never have any feelings for us, and when we finally abandon them, they will never know that we are gone. Our objects are blind and dumb, silent sentinels that watch over our daily comings and goings. Yet we grieve when they go missing, but not just because it is totally inconvenient, but because we have been careless with our thing and let them out of our care. Looking for lost objects is painful, full of anxiety, angst-ridden, depressing, time consuming, and, often, fruitless. Who bothers to pick up a lost item and return it to the lost-and-found? Sometimes, however, my faith in human nature is restored by a good Samaritan who makes the effort to retrieve a lost object and return it to the owner, which is what I do when I find a lost ID or book or object which might be identified. When I can’t tell to whom it belongs, I will put the object in the lost-and-found, hoping that the owner will back track over their steps and return to the scene of the tragedy. Once, someone gave me a lost jacket, insisting that it was mine. Since I couldn’t find the owner, and no one stepped up to claim it, I put it in the closet–didn’t want to disappoint the good Samaritan that returned a lost object to me. When you do find that which is lost, you are overwhelmed by an enormous sense of relief. You might even cry. There are times, however, when the lost stays lost and you have to replace it. You kick yourself because of your carelessness, you second guess your actions, you wonder how you could have been so klutzy as to lose such an important thing–your keys, wallet, phone, watch, shoes, pants (don’t ask). I once lost a hat in the middle of a blizzard because I didn’t tie my chin strap and the wind stole my hat. Try as I might, though, I am always fighting the forces of carelessness, trying to conserve by stuff.