| Musings |

Losing It

The search began. For my items and for my sanity. Sadly, as of this writing, neither has been found

When I lost my favorite blue shirt, I was mildly perturbed, but mostly undisturbed because I was quite sure it was hanging to dry in the basement. And even when I went to the basement to look for it and it wasn’t there, I was still unruffled. I figured the cleaning lady took it back upstairs in the interim (ah, denial, you’re my friend).

The fact that this happened right after misplacing my glasses was somewhat irritating. And, yes, they were the replacement pair for the pair I lost a few weeks before, if you must know. But what are you going do, I thought? That’s how glasses roll.

When I lost my second retainer (the orthodontist, in his wisdom, always makes three) shortly thereafter, I was slightly agitated because, retainer? I questioned myself — having passed adolescence by several decades, should I not be old enough to hold on to a retainer?

I spent a moment or two wondering why I was losing things. It churned a little, but I let it go.

But by the time I lost my hairbrush the next day, I realized I was losing it. How did I lose that brush when I know I used it to brush the sheitel I was setting downstairs, and now it’s neither downstairs nor upstairs? Nor under the bed nor the dresser nor the chair nor even under the blanket, for that matter.

The search began. For my items and for my sanity. Sadly, as of this writing, neither has been found. After looking and then looking again, searching in the same places and then again in different places, rifling through closets — mine and those of every other family member — and not finding it, I still didn’t give up. (Bet you weren’t expecting that!)

Because it made no sense.

Shirts can’t walk. Retainers can’t walk. Brushes can’t walk. These are indisputable facts. So why are these items missing? And my house is a contained environment with only so many spaces in it. It doesn’t make sense, and I need it to make sense.

It occurred to me that this wasn’t a coincidence. Which was fortunate, because had I not gotten the message, I might have had to lose more things. This was no unlucky streak. Hashem was speaking to me. (First she’s losing things, now she hears voices. We’re not concerned at all.)

The urgency with which I needed to find these things was the Voice of Control. I need, I want, things to make sense. I can and I will find these things if I only try hard enough. But all the wanting wasn’t making them appear. None of the items magically turned up, Rabi Meir Baal Haneis notwithstanding.

What had these lost items come to teach me? I think it was the art of letting go.

I pondered this mystery with my wise friends, and we came to the conclusion that in order to find something you must lose something, or some other wise idiom where you employ the use of a paradox, and people nod sagely despite having no idea what you’re talking about. We concurred that my only chance of finding these items was to stop looking for them. Which wasn’t that hard to do since I didn’t have glasses, and which was really hard to do because I really needed and wanted my stuff.

I decided to release control and surrender to Hashem’s Will, in the hope, of course, that I would find the stuff and be able to tell a great story about surrendering to Hashem’s Will and then finding my stuff. But as the wise Y.M. Rosenblatt once said, “Expecting acceptance and surrender to change your reality is neither acceptance nor surrender.”

I continued to “accept” and “surrender” in the hope that I would still get my desired outcome. I only checked the same places I’d already checked two times a day instead of six. I was rocking the surrender thing and was sure it would result in my house fulfilling the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah. Alas, this didn’t happen. At least not for the blue shirt, which was my greatest loss.

Eventually I gave up. It seemed my shirt had gone the way of single socks and been sucked into some deep abyss of no return. I mourned the loss (it was a really great shirt) and committed to moving on. We were going away and I no longer had the luxury of moping. I had to pack and clear the guest room for the guests staying at our house.

The end.

Bet you weren’t expecting that. Bet you were waiting for the part where the shirt showed up the day after that. It didn’t. And I learned that sometimes we just really need to let go, to relinquish control and the arrogant belief that we can manipulate Hashem into doing our will by pretending to accept His.

It was a good day when you measure good days by what you have learned.

P.S. I came back two and a half weeks and a war later. As I was puttering around the kitchen, out of the corner of my eye I saw my blue shirt draped over the kitchen chair. Seems the guests found it while I was gone. As this war unfolds and life reminds me loudly Whose Will prevails, I hope I remember the lessons of acceptance and surrender.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 873)

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