You calmly reach into your jacket or maybe even the glove box of your car for your wallet, only to find it mysteriously missing, even though you could swear that you put it in that exact spot after the last time you used it. “No big deal, it must be in my other jeans inside the house,” you say to yourself, albeit in a self-convincing manner that already feels to be one that is losing confidence… rapidly. Before you know it, you are desperately looking in every nook and cranny of the house, ripping through drawers, cabinets and closets until the whole place looks like it has just been through an FBI drug raid!
I imagine I am not the only one who has gone through at least a semblance of the above scenario, whether it be via lost keys, credit card or even sunglasses, but after recently experiencing similar situations with both a seemingly lost passport and credit card, I decided to open up my own little investigation (minus the FBI tactics) to get to the bottom of why this has been a recurrent theme throughout my adult life. My amateur detective hunch was that it had something to do with presence (not the birthday type, either).
Earlier this year, in anticipation of an upcoming business trip to Europe, I offered to retrieve passports that I had packed away during our family’s recent move to our new home. “No problem, this should be easy” I thought, only to find myself hours later frantically rummaging through every box in the attic after all of our passports were not in the box I originally thought I placed them in a year ago. My anxiety level was going up every minute that went by without successfully locating them. I noticed during this whole process that my mind began to come up with all kinds of crazy scenarios that would explain their disappearance, such as “the box they were in was never loaded by the moving company” or “maybe I never even packed them in the first place.” I was beginning to believe they had fallen into another dimension, really!
During this panicked search, worrying that we would have to pay hundreds of dollars for an expedited passport renewal, I became aware of just how disconnected I had become from my body and how I was being led by the thoughts in my head rather than staying settled and present with myself. My breathing changed from gently via my nose to through my open mouth and my heart rate was higher than normal, all signs that I was a bit ‘out of it’ when it came to my normal daily rhythms. These were my initial retroactive observations that would go a long way in arriving at a clear concept of the ‘culprit’ responsible for this lifetime trend of losing things.
After not being able to locate the passport and indeed having to pay that huge fee for an expedited one, a number of months went by and I found myself back up in our loft area looking for a storage bin. As I opened the closet door and looked down at the bins, I could almost feel what was barely hidden right before my eyes. At the bottom of the stacked bins lay a number of small items neatly packed away, among them being all of our passports!!! “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I exclaimed out loud, in somewhat of a self-berating tone. But right after that I had to laugh at the crazy emotional rollercoaster that I had just put myself through, when they had been lying under my nose all along, as I had actually looked at those very same bins during my initial search at least three or four times. It was in this moment that, only upon reflection later, I would realise the biggest clue to this mystery had then been revealed to me. Neither did I know that I was about to get the clincher a few weeks later.
The readers of this blog might think this is a fabricated story just for dramatic effect, but the truth is that about a quarter of the way into the writing of this piece, I actually ‘lost’ my wallet! Other than later providing the obvious title to this writing, it brought me to a point in my understanding of this pattern of losing and finding things that I had never had before. You see, even after the last episode with the passports, I dropped into that old pattern of scrambling around the house looking for it, calling the last store I used it at, assuming that someone stole it out of my car, etc. etc., even though no money had been taken out of any of my accounts. But this time, in the midst of my panic about the ramifications of losing my wallet and having no success in locating it, I simply called off the search, laid down on the couch, and surrendered. Not in the sense of giving up, but with the intention of saying no to the nervous energy that I had let drive me up to that point and to allow myself the space to feel all that was coming up for me in that moment.
You see, there was actually a deep sadness that I felt from the fact that I had created these emotionally charged scenarios by ‘losing’ things and in the reactions that ensued I had chosen to let go of what I now know is the true essence of stillness and settlement that is our natural way, which I had been connecting to more and more in my daily life. Immediately upon getting up and preparing for work, I received in my mind the exact location of my wallet – in my toolbox at work! – a place that I usually do not store it, for sure. The choice to become very still and accept the possibility of being more ritualistic in the way I store things to support myself revealed to me the truth of the situation.
There exists a myriad of ways that we avoid this natural stillness within us – eating sugary foods, drinking caffeinated beverages, intense exercise, over-working, creating dramas in our lives, etc. – but what became so obvious to me in this last episode of misplacing my wallet was that there was an underlying pattern here in which every time that I thought I had lost something, I inevitably ended up finding it right under my nose! I can’t tell you how many times this has occurred at my work, where I couldn’t find a certain tool, searched all over the airplane and hangar, thinking the worst, only to find it patiently sitting right inside my tool bag, as if to say: “Are you finished playing games and looking outside yourself for all the answers? I was waiting here all along!”
It was with this realisation that I had come to the underlying message that these experiences were offering me: that in life we have many times been taught to look for recognition, acceptance, approval, and ultimately love from an external source, without first connecting to and feeling that we have all that we need right here inside our inner hearts.
There truly is nothing to ‘find’ outside of us that can be any more meaningful, fulfilling or wise than what can be felt by allowing ourselves to simply be without the need to do anything to prove that we are good enough in the world. Continuing to search for these things outside of us will only result in the same kind of emotional turmoil that I had put myself through during all those years of apparently losing things. But now I can say with authority that I have truly found what is the most treasured thing I can imagine… ME, in my true essence.
By Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, Lover of People, Nature and the philosophy of Universal Living, North Carolina, USA