Lost and Found
A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend was staying at my place down the road, on a beautiful piece of land tucked back from the highway on a hill above a river. The guest and his wife were asked only to keep things tidy and clean because the place is for sale and people often come to see it.
On this particular day, I was meeting the realtor prior to a showing. Luckily, I arrived early. When I went inside the house it looked like a bomb had gone off. There was stuff everywhere - dirty dishes, dirty floor, unmade bed, overflowing closets, and boxes of discount purchases stacked everywhere.
In my rush to do damage control, I misplaced my phone. Afterward, I retraced my steps until I was good and late to an acupuncture appointment, but of course I couldn't call or text because I didn't have the damn phone. Worse yet, I was leaving town two days later. My contacts! Maps! Books on tape! Reproaching myself for being so phone-dependent, so careless, so enraged, so frustrated to have spent so much time in the futile search, I shouted every expletive that came to mind, and called Verizon, scrambling to figure out how to get a replacement and sync it successfully.
The acupuncturist needled a couple of yin points to help me find the phone effortlessly 'without even looking for it'. I floated briefly in brief state of balance which evaporated as soon as I got in the car and drove back to take one last look before twilight. That night, my phone dependency (rather than the screen) glowed in the dark. I wanted to text my kids to let them know what had happened, but.... Wanted to check the weather, but... Needed to look at the map, but... and the moon phase, but.... and to set the alarm for the morning, but... I couldn't even use the 'find my phone' thingy because there's no internet at the place where the phone was lost. I could see it - ruined in the next rain, stolen by a renegade workman or random visitor, eaten by a bear...
The following morning, on my way to the Verizon store, I decided to look one last time. Again I climbed the steep hill leading to that grassy ledge where the realtor and I had stopped to chat. Surely, I must have dropped the phone there. I searched in vain in the long grass, still seething at my friend's friends. So disrespectful! So inconsiderate! Such a damn hassle! I stood there in the soft morning light and looked at the forest, feeling suddenly exhausted. I was consumed by fury and it felt awful. Reluctantly, humbled in that awful way that only a fully-owned blunder can be humbling, I began the long internal climb back to center. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Repeat. And then I saw it - not the phone, but something even more essential: the friend of the friend would soon leave; the place would be cleaned up; I had learned a lesson and so had my friend, and perhaps his friends as well. I'd soon get a new phone. Life would go on.
Then I saw something else: I needed to wish those people well. Sincerely. With all my heart. Not for only them, but for me, and for the sake of adding a drop of goodness instead of rancor to a beleaguered world. Suddenly, the only thing that mattered was somehow finding a way to want, with all my heart, for those people to thrive and be happy; for their journey home to be a safe one; for them to be welcomed by people and animals who loved them; for the love that I felt at the moment to last as long as possible and extend to the too-long list of people I find annoying. With practice and a little luck, maybe next time I'd remember sooner and more easily how to recapture the sense of gratitude and tenderness that now overwhelmed me. I popped back into the house, walked over to a stack of boxes and picked up my phone. It was sitting right where I'd left it the day before when I had set it down in order to grab a blanket to throw over the pile of dirty laundry.
Whenever I used to lose something and find it later, my father would say, It's always in the last place you look. In this case, the last place I looked was inside my own heart. What I found there was much more precious than my precious phone.