The Art of Losing

Lady Detective

Is it my imagination or have I started to misplace more things as I coast through my sixties? I say misplace, rather than lose, because the things usually turn up…not always at the time I need them, but eventually.  I can always picture myself with the object, item of clothing or paper consciously putting the thing in a safe place that makes sense at the time, but when I go to get the object I don’t recall its exact location. I go to all the possible nooks and crannies where I may have tucked it. I engage the help of my long-suffering husband who has admonished me to “put things in the same place each and every time,” but will nicely join in the hunt.

(I remember my mother yelling:    if I come up and find your____ you’ll be sorry!)

Every day I promise myself that I will remember where I put the opera tickets, the book I’m reading for a book club,  the watch that is chafing my wrist, my mother’s AARP Preferred Drug bill, but it just doesn’t happen. The thought process I use when I tuck away the item is erased by the time I decide to retrieve it.  These are the problems, as I see it:  First, I have way too much stuff, especially clothes and books. Second, I am an inveterate clipper of articles and poems and little quotes. Third, I am a keeper of anything my progeny may have touched (something to do with good luck and bad) and Fourth, I don’t like clutter;  so when I feel inundated with all of this stuff I collect, I sweep it into folders and drawers and bins and boxes and under the bed. There is a fifth and sixth but they are too weird to write about.

The worst is that when I can’t find things, I roll my eyes heaven-ward and moan with genuine despair: “I just want to find those tickets. I need those tickets. That’s all I ask. Just this once. It’s not too much to ask. Why does this have to happen to me? Where are you, tickets?

I draw comfort from Elizabeth Bishop’s Villanelle:

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


Categories: observations

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