I lost my headphones at the weekend.
I could spend an age complaining about how this renders me useless RE working in public, or something else equally not important in the grand scale of things (like how my Marco-Polo game was largely unsuccessful), but it’s not really the headphones that worry me.
It’s the losing of things.
The feeling of something that is there, but somehow also not, is difficult to stand. My headphones, like the thoughts I lose in the middle of the night, are still there somewhere — I know it — I just can’t see them right now.
I spent an age retracing my steps yesterday, and recalling my exact whereabouts in a mad-dash headphone hunt. At one point I ended up in the kitchen, dubious but willing to suspend reality in order to consider the possibility I’d left them inside the oven or under the toaster. In some ways I spent too much time looking them. And yet, in the back of my mind, I think they’re worth at least three or four more whacky searches under the fridge and between my books.
It’s the same way when I lose a word, or entire chapter, that I’ve been silently working on in my head. There’s the same sense of loss, like nothing can ever be right again until whatever is lost returns. There’s the same suspension of normal activities, and a similar kind of frustration.
The only difference between the words and my headphones is how anxious I become about never finding them again. With headphones, if all else fails I can always go get more (don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world I will find my original headphones again!). But with my words, and my thoughts, often I am struck by the fear that they will and can never return — that they were with me for only a short period of time, and because my hands would not hold them they saw fit to fly.
I tell myself a great idea or line will always return, because we think in circles and good ideas like to swirl. I repeat it like a mantra, and hope that it’s true. But perhaps the reality of lost words is just too hard for me to understand right now; perhaps I use my mantra to lie to myself.
Perhaps all of my lost words remain just that — lost, waiting to be found by somebody better able to hold them. Perhaps, as Jack Kerouac once kind of said, some day I will find the words again and they will be simple.