Thursday, April 14, 2016

What I Learned from Something Lost and Found

A little over a year ago, I had my study and the adjoining guest bathroom painted. It was a huge job for both the painters and us, as we had to remove from my study the contents of 11 large bookcases and then the bookcases themselves before the ceiling and walls could be painted and the hard tile floor thoroughly cleaned. The furniture, which consisted of two big desks, two chairs, and two filing cabinets, just got shoved around as the men worked. In the bathroom, I emptied the cabinets, as they were being painted as well.

After several days of meticulous work, everything came out looking great. The resulting effect was well worth the time and money spent and the tremendous amount of effort on everyone's part.  

However, sometime later, to my great distress, I discovered that my two favorite decorative greeting cards were missing from the bathroom. Now, let me explain where and why I have greeting cards and postcards in a bathroom!

Above the toilet, we have a cabinet called a Johnny boy. It has two shelves behind its swing-out doors and an open, lower shelf about 18 inches above the top of the toilet. Thus it provides ample space for things like an extra roll of toilet paper, some decorative items, small paper cups for our guests, and much more.

On the lower shelf, I have four small decorative items: all black and white, to match the room's color scheme. In addition, something that I regularly do is prop a pretty greeting card or postcard up on the shelf, changing the cards according to the season or just on a whim, on no particular schedule. Two of them are perfect for the monthly Spanish conversation group meetings that I host. One of them depicts two smiling Mayan girls in very colorful clothing; one girl is welcoming the other to her home. The other is a lovely handmade card, featuring the words, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." The latter card was a gift from a longtime Spanish student of mine. Both of them are wonderful things to put out as an extra little welcome to my guests.  

When I discovered that precisely those two favorite cards were missing, I was horrified. My assumption was that someone—a guest, or maybe even a student—had at some point rummaged through the cabinet, had picked out those two cards, and had slipped them into his or her pocket or purse. (Another card had been on display for quite a while, so I did not notice the loss right away.) I searched everywhere for them; they were nowhere to be found.

Worst of all, what was then lost, in addition to the cards, was my trust in my own students and guests. I was filled with anger and suspicion, fearful that the same thief, or perhaps another, could at any time take something of much more value from my home. There are many pretty little items all over the house, things that could very quickly and easily be slipped into a pocket or purse, and I would never know which of the many people who are in my home on a regular basis had taken one or more of them.

In short, I was angry, disappointed, disillusioned, and very worried. Gradually, and especially after nothing else disappeared, those feelings faded, but it took a long, sad time for me to stop worrying about a possible additional theft.

Well, you can probably guess what eventually happened. Recently, I was doing some long overdue clutter-clearing, rummaging through one of many cardboard boxes whose jumbled contents I need to investigate and sort. And there, to my immense surprise and happiness, were the two precious cards, along with several others that I like. Obviously, at some point before the painting project, I myself had gathered up the cards and had placed them in that box. Why I had ever separated them from the others that I still had in the bathroom, I have no idea. Nor do I have any memory of having placed the cards in the box. But I must have; no one else would have done that. So now I have them again, and my suspicions have all been laid to rest. What a wonderful relief!

Beyond that, though, there are some very good lessons to be taken from this combination of happenings. Here they are, as I see them:

1. Don't be suspicious of family members or friends unless you have proof, or something very close to it, that they have done you wrong in some way.

2. What was lost may yet be found again. Sometimes you know that the search is utterly hopeless, but most of the time, you do not. Try to keep hope alive, and keep searching!

3. You can never know what happy event a given day will bring. Sometimes it's something  monumental, fantastic, even life-altering. But sometimes the event is small, perhaps quite trivial in the eyes of others, yet deeply meaningful—such as when you find a misplaced object that you really cared about.

Now I can go back to trusting all those who enter my home, as well as to displaying my two favorite cards. May the affection and joy that shine out from those images and words fill all of our hearts for a long time to come.         


No comments:

Post a Comment