The universe has all sorts of crazy ways of keeping and marking time, and it's like we each get our own calendar of personalized holidays. A couple of mine: A week left of my freshman year in college, one of my dormmates ran up to me on the quad, lifted me up and swung me around, breaking several of my ribs. That same week a year later, our house president saw me on the front lawn during an ice cream sundae party, picked me up and squeezed me. An assortment of ribs cracked again. And for several years after I had surgery for an infection in my hand, my left index finger would feel funny on the April anniversary of its traumatic opening up and draining of whatever bad crap was in there.
Of course, they are not all somber anniversaries--some don't even get a whole day but slip echo-like through an hourglass, maybe words whispered when we made our way into this plane. Like on certain summer nights, a breeze will come through the window that I know I've felt before, like it traveled around the world and came back with stories of others in its path… It remembers me climbing out the back of a friend's car on a June night, barefoot on asphalt still warm from the day, backdrop lit with stars and fireflies…. After rehearsal for high school graduation, still in my cap and gown and flip flops as I lean over a fence to feed a friendly cow some greenage he couldn't reach…
So, with time tracked by a tricked-out rolodex remotely controlled by the moon, it shouldn't have come as a surprise when, on a run a couple of Mondays ago, I found a gold iPhone 6 on the ground by the East 6th Street footbridge--pretty much right where I lost my own gold iPhone six months prior.
I remember feeling so violated when I lost it. I'm not a big phone person--(1) you never really understand what someone wants/feels until you talk to them in person and 2) I had maybe 2 apps on there, which elicited big laughs from the nice Verizon Wireless guys who eventually programmed my replacement--but I took tons of photos for potential blogs, and a precious handful of images of high-octane moments, like my mom's hair when she was dying (it held this indescribable energy and beauty), like Ira when he was a baby and the love in Bing's eyes when he looked at me.
If this happens to you, immediately put your phone in Lost Mode using the Find My Phone app--locking it and enabling you to track it if it still is charged and online. Then you leave a special "I am lost"message on it displaying a number someone can call. I never got a call, but that day my little gold dream floated above the deep snow drifts of East River Park up to Bellevue Hospital and back to the Jacob Riis Houses, where it remained until it became untraceable.
During that time, I fantasized about going there and putting up signs, playing the sympathy card about the photos of my mom. I thought about how iPhones are quite a luxury--but are worth nothing if they can't be used. I felt like I was in a cosmic standoff with whomever stole it, because by this point, they'd crossed the line from finding to stealing. But worrying about two phones is like not knowing whether to shit or get off the pot, so, well, I let 'er rip, gradually accepting and absorbing the loss.
And it rang again, and it was Rashan saying that he was coming himself. And within 30 seconds, I handed it off to a scrappy 12-year-old on a bike with a banana seat, so light in my hand and then just as tender gone, like a butterfly long free dreaming of being in her cocoon again…
Could it have been my phone? The whole thing was choreographed so weirdly, it felt a little prankish, but I just didn't want to go there. And ultimately, it doesn't matter anyway, because I think this very personal marking of time is less about loss--save that for the big stuff!--and more about letting go.
1. Don't get all testosteroned when you need to do anything faster--instead, go all loose and easy. If I hadn't been so tense during my speedwork, I may have heard my phone hit the pavement, but no way it could compete with my pounding heart. As one of my favorite yoga teachers, Erich Schiffman, has said, everything is easier when you relax…and it's so true, especially the hard stuff!
2. Inspiration has a shelf life--and it's much better added to the recipe when first picked rather than squirreled away in the freezer for later. And you don't need to hoard it, because it will always be there. Otherwise interpreted as: Use those photos right away!
3. You don't need a photo to keep a memory alive. If it's important, it will always be inside you like a shy smile. (P.S. I've also taken the practical step of backing them up on iCloud.)
4. Declutter joyfully. There's really nothing but your soul and your heart you can't afford to lose.
What's in your datebook? Would love to hear what the universe has you celebrating/commemorating.
"People take pictures of each other
Just to prove that they really existed"