This week, I lost a pair of sunglasses. Given, they were $160 sunglasses that were given to me as a gift less than five months ago. Still, they were sunglasses. This is not the end of the world. And yet, somehow this loss brought my world crashing down. I hated myself for being so stupid. I felt powerfully, painfully guilty that my mother had spent her hard earned money on these things, only to have me to absent-mindedly lose them a few months later. I felt like a disappointment to myself, to my family, to the world. I laid awake last night with electrical charges of anxiety coursing through my body, feeling my powerlessness over my own life with frightening intensity. When I fell asleep, I dreamed over and over of finding the sunglasses, of picking them up, only to have them dematerialize in my hands. Could the message be any more obvious? This is me dealing with the impermanence of life. The fact that things can be taken from us at at any moment, no matter how much we want to hold onto them.
I'm sure most people would say that me losing my sunglasses — and all the myriad other things I have lost in my life — has nothing to do with impermanence and everything to do with my irresponsibility and disorganization. And I wouldn't argue with those people. Ever since I was a child, I've had terrible crises over losing things. I have lost more pairs of sunglasses than I can count (though the rest were cheap). I lost a diamond bracelet given to me by my grandmother, and countless other items of jewelry. I have lost credit cards, phones, favorite items of clothing. I have left my purse in more places than I can say. I lost an expensive watch given to me by Mr. SOC. That was years ago and I have never allowed myself to buy another watch, because I feel I don't deserve it.
Every time, I vow to do better and be more responsible. But the truth is, I don't know how to be any different. I sit things down without even noticing what I'm doing. And then I forget them and don't even realize that they're lost until days later. I have no idea how to change something that I do unconsciously. Does anyone know the scene from "Harold and Maude," where he gives her a gift and she immediately throws it into a lake and says, "That way I'll always know where it is." I'm starting to think that's what I should do with all items smaller than a loaf of bread.
I think what scared me was the realization that, no matter how much I wanted to be responsible with this pair of precious and wonderful sunglasses, I just couldn't hold onto them. I racked my brain but couldn't be sure about the last place I had worn them. I couldn't remember sitting them down anyplace. It was as if they had simply vanished into thin air, and I was a bystander in the process. Suddenly, everything felt precarious. I tried to tell myself that any problem that can be solved for less than $200 is not worth laying awake at night about, sweating and having heart palpitations. But instead, my thoughts spiraled into all the other unexpected expenses we've had recently, how if it goes on like this our savings will evaporate. And then in the morning, I got an email from one of my supervisors that was vaguely critical of my job performance. And I spiraled even deeper into, What if I lose my job? What if I can't find another? I no longer qualify for unemployment! What if we lose everything??? I went to let the dog out and imagined her being run over by a car, just another example of me being too stupid and irresponsible to take care of anything.
I don't know what to do with all this crap except to let it thrash around and run its course--and to lay it out here, in the light, rather than letting it feed on itself in the dark.