My intention for this morning was to wake up and get back into my writing routine and then, as a reward, write a blog post. I haven't been much in the writing mood recently. I think it was Charles Bukowski who said something like "Writing is easy. Just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein." Given that I've felt emotionally anemiac the last few weeks, I just haven't been willing to open a vein. Or even the tiniest capillary.
Today was going to be different. I planned to get back into my 2-page quota mode and read the newly cut down draft of my first novel. I had some notes on ideas to organise and a little bit of research to do. A cheerful Sunday morning close to the summer solstice - the opportunities for recharging, regrouping, and restarting my projects could not have been better.
But then I lost my keys. I'm 95% certain that they fell out of my jacket pocket while I was frolicking with Toby in one of the nearby fields. Peter and I went out there after dinner so he could take a few photographs. I didn't realise my keys were missing until I went to lock the door before bedtime.
So, instead of going to sleep while thinking about my books and then waking refreshed and ready to work, I went to bed worried about my keys. I knew no one was going to walk off with them from a cow field, but I did not like that they were out of my possession. Outside my control. I woke up several times during the night, in a cold sweat, thinking "I need my keys!"
Shortly after waking up at 6, I put on my wellies and went out to search for the keys. I spent an hour looking, but I didn't find them. All I got for my trouble was wet jeans and countless midge bites. I could narrow the search area to about the size of a movie screen, but the grass is very long and dense.
After an hour, I conceded it wasn't going to be a quick job and went back home for breakfast. Then I returned to the field with my hurley and spent another hour searching. I even tried crawling on the ground, since my jeans were already wet. Although the grass was flattened in some places, it's so thick that anything as heavy as keys would probably fall right through it. I could have been looking right at my keys, but the curtain of grass could completely obscure them.
I took a break and went home, where I wanted to do something that I could easily accomplish and feel good about. So I filled out my amended tax return for the US government. (I filed without all my paperwork and it turns out that they owe me a tidy refund.) The form was byzantine in is directions and the technical writer in me was horrified. I was also frustrated and angry. Plus, I really wanted to find my keys. It had become an obsesssion. I even asked the Internet how to find my keys. (The delightfully retro Professor Solomon provided a helpful 12-point plan, but it didn't include any tips about searching through grass that was at least a foot-long in some places.
Still wanting to check another thing off my to-do list, I went for my daily run. The clarity I get from running gave me a great idea - the problem with the search is that the grass is too thick to see through effectively, but it's too much of a pain to crawl around on the ground looking. What if I walked around in my bare feet, which would certainly register the feeling of keys if I stepped on them? Touch seemed the only useful sense in this case. (Well the legendary sixth sense would have come in handy, but I am not so gifted.)
In the end, I could only bring myself to walk around in my socks. The idea of cow pies, slugs, beetles, and hook worms made me crave a layer of anything between my foot and the elements. A thickish sock was nearly as good as bare feet but seemed less prone to creating a moment of horrible, disgusting discovery.
An hour and a half later, I had nothing to report but nettle stings and a sinking feeling that the keys might be well and truly gone. They are either in that field, hidden inadvertainly in some weird part of the house, or were stolen by faeries. I had no choice but to move on to the secret 13th principle of Dr. Solomon's 12 step plan. Summed up in five words: let the lost item go. He waxes philosophical about it: "Until then, accept that you are being offered a lesson: in patience…or humility…or nonattachment to the things of this world."
On the short walk back to the house, carrying a hurley in one hand and my shoes in the other, I thought about what lesson was on offer. Is it a test to see how well I can shake something off? Was this about patience? Was this about knowing when to give up?
When I explained all of this to Peter, he shrugged and said "The lesson is keep your keys in your pants pocket."