It seems fitting that the first post on a blog recently retooled for the anxious middle-aged adventuress should be about losing things.

I have an active imagination. It’s one of the things that makes me a writer, but in everyday life it can be troublesome.

More than a decade ago, my husband and I redid all the bathrooms in the fixer-upper we bought. We were going out for dinner after shopping at Home Depot and had a new toilet in the back of the truck. I suggested we lock the shell, and he laughed at me. “What, you think someone’s going to steal a toilet?”

It seemed plausible to me. People steal copper from construction sites. Why not a brand-new toilet?

It’s become our private joke, but laughing about it hasn’t made me stop worrying. The other day I was digging up the yarrow infesting my backyard and decided to take a break. I slid my blue-and-gray work gloves onto the handles of the wheelbarrow and leaned the shovel up against it. Then I asked myself, “Should I move the wheelbarrow over by the compost pile? It’s so close to the fence here.”

In my defense, my house is surrounded by only a chain-link fence and looks out onto a park and open space. I’m glad I don’t have a privacy fence blocking my view of the mountains, but the low fence doesn’t keep anything out of my yard that wants to get in.

Still, would someone reach over the fence to grab a 14-year-old shovel? A wheelbarrow? The weeds?

No one did, of course, and if I put some of my garden decorations near the fence, they would probably stay put too. If someone did steal them, though, I would remember that—not the weeks or months or years they were there, but the moment they disappeared.

What does this have to do with adventure, you ask?

I still think about the short coat I left in a hostel in Paris when I was doing my junior year abroad. I still wonder how I lost my mother’s class ring.

If I’m going to travel extensively, I will lose things. It’s inevitable that one day I’ll set something down and it will be snatched up (like the backpack my young neighbor stepped too far away from on her tour of South America).

My question is, can I accept this loss?

Leave A Comment

  1. Michele Harvey July 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I guess the best rule of thumb is not to bring anything with you that you’d mind losing. Travel very light, keeping in mind that some things you bring, will break and therefore will indeed be lost. Of course the essentials, which are the most apt to be stolen, like money for instance, should be well concealed but in the long run, everything is lost. You can’t take it with you. Perhaps it’s better to surrender your attachments.

  2. Beth Partin July 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Surrendering some attachments is kind of the point, isn’t it? Then you can make new ones.

  3. Catherine July 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    This is exactly why I left my wedding rings at home for our recent trip. I seldom take them off, I sleep, shower, garden, cook with them on. But when I’m hot, which I assumed I would be on vacation, I take them off. I was afraid I’d leave them somewhere unwanted so I left them at home. It was weird to be bandless for 10 days. But honesty? It was hot enough that I didn’t mind 🙂

    glad you’re back

  4. Todd Bradley July 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    The suggestion to not take anything that you’d mind losing seems like it would work fine for a one or two week trip, maybe even a month. But I can’t imagine living for a year like that.

    And there’s part of Beth’s story that she didn’t get quite right. Here’s the truth as I remember it: Remember the toilet that was in the back of the truck? It wasn’t the new toilet. It was the old avocado colored toilet from 1972 that we needed to haul to Resource 2000 to donate.

  5. Beth Partin July 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Catherine, glad you’re back too! Let’s get together sometime.

    Todd, was it really? It was 13 years ago. But I really did think it was the special extended toilet.

  6. Beth Partin July 7, 2010 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    This is a test comment to see if I get an email notification.

  7. saint July 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I don’t think you have to worry too much about a wheelbarrow. And if someone steals it, they clearly need it more than you.

    Most material possessions are expendable and replaceable. The only things I get annoyed about losing are expensive things, like a laptop. But they break down after two years anyway, so even those aren’t too bad to lose (but the information on them is). I lost a coat in a Russian train car, and my backup harddrive crashed where I was keeping my music I made and I lost the info. I was more angered by losing the harddrive than the coat.

  8. Beth Partin July 9, 2010 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Yeah, I would have been upset about the hard drive too. I think the loss of some things bothers us more than others. I can’t remember where the coat I lost in Paris came from, but I think it had belonged to someone in my family and had some sentimental value.

  9. Michele Harvey July 9, 2010 at 8:29 am - Reply

    I admit that if I lose any of my intellectual, business,or social info, such as pen drives, hard drives, etc. it would be not only distressing but crippling.

  10. Beth Partin July 9, 2010 at 8:35 am - Reply


    I guess that’s why some people say you should have 2 or 3 backups of things. It’s a good idea, but I get lazy sometimes.

  11. Todd Bradley July 9, 2010 at 8:40 am - Reply

    And by “some people” I think she means me. 🙂

    I once lost a hard drive that had the only working versions of several songs I was recording for a new CD. I felt so deflated when I realized that I didn’t have a backup. I lost nearly a full album of new material, some of which I’d been working on for a year.

    Michele, if you’ve got important stuff on pen drives, please regularly make copies of them. I’ve found pen drives are way less reliable than hard drives, and have lost the data on two or three of them. Plus, given the small size, they’re easy to literally lose!

  12. Michele Harvey July 9, 2010 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I don’t want to be a slave to the time and effort needed for 2-3 back ups, just like I don’t want to be a slave to any of my possessions. I guess I should prepare myself to lose everything at some point. It’s not losing things that’s the problem, I think ulimately the problem is one of attachment.

  13. Todd Bradley July 9, 2010 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Good point, Michele. That’s exactly the thought process I went through. But when I realized that spending 2 minutes a week added up to less time than re-recording and re-mixing an entire album, I became a believer. I’m willing to spend 100 minutes a year as insurance to prevent losing 100 hours a year. I guess I could become a sculptor or carpenter or something, so the products of my creativity are physical and not subject to the whims of the easily-angered computer gods. 😉

  14. Beth Partin July 9, 2010 at 9:13 am - Reply

    No, Todd, I was thinking of a photographer whose class I took. He said he had 3 backups of everything on 3 different kinds of media (hard drive, maybe another hard drive, and CDs). I don’t think I can be bothered to back up all my photos on CDs.

  15. Michele Harvey July 9, 2010 at 9:32 am - Reply

    Chances are high that at least one other person has received everything of importance I’ve written, which to me, is my creative work, including rough drafts an chances are more than high that I’d make a lousy carpenter.