The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
from “One Art”, by Elizabeth Bishop
Maybe the power of that line comes from the fact that it’s so wrong. It’s not that we (I’m including you, dear reader) don’t get enough practice. Consult the trope: it takes 10,000 hours to master something. I’ve put in the time, haven’t you? In the poem Bishop mentions lost door keyes, the hour badly spent. What is especially galling is the hour badly spent is spent looking for the lost door keys, or any of the myriad things that go truant. In my case yesterday, it was a check that a client had written me.
(Maybe I should save this for the Book of Astonishments.)
The check was one of two arrived in my mailbox during one of our recent downpours. (Generous Tefnut, we are saturated with gratitude. Marvel how the hill turns green.) My mailbox is less than waterproof. I peeled the checks from their soggy envelopes and put them flat on the table to dry. Yesterday one check lay where there had been two.
The search was no party. Drawers, wallets, pockets, under rugs. It had to be somewhere. Three times I upturned the sack of recycled papers onto the floor and pawed through them. Three times no check. The unsearched possibilities had dwindled to minus-1. Minus-1 came in form of the lid-less blue recycling bin up near the gate. Had I put anything in there over the past two days? I was sure not, but when it comes to losing, certainty has long since been devalued.
There was nowhere else to look. It was sprinkling. All the papers in the bin would be soggy. I put on my raincoat, and searched for my shoes (not lost, halleluia.)
Inside the right shoe was a wadded up piece of paper. I smoothed it out. The check!!! I didn’t believe it either, but incredulity was no match for the satisfaction of the thing found.
Resume, heedless world, to spin.
I cashed it today. Let me buy a round or two. To Art! And Mastery! Happy holidays!