In the last seven months of travel I’ve lost a lot of things. Here’s a partial list of some of them: a pair of boxers, an outlet multi adapter, wallet with credit card, license and debit card, two pairs of headphones, iphone, kindle, a pair of shorts, a pair of wool socks, two compasses, two pairs of sunglasses, two carabiners, a water bottle and a watch.
I’ll spare you a list of all the near-losses.
A couple of the less significant things on this list broke or were stolen but most of them I lost. There’s a practiced eye roll that my ex-girlfriend, friends and family all have for when I tell them about the latest thing I’ve lost. I can feel it through the phone.
And although it’s become expected it’s still painful every time I lose something. I’ve grown sensitive to the fact it’s a fault of mine. So when I share the most recent reminder of my flaw I’m not looking for an eye roll that makes me feel like I deserved it. I just want someone to understand that it’s frustrating for me and that right now I’m hurting a bit. When I’m not hurting about it then the eye rolls and jokes are fair game —I’ll even laugh at them.
It’s hard to be with someone when they are hurting. I can remember times that people have come to me hurting and my lack of tact unintentionally made things worse. To be present with someone else hurting —to really be there next to them— we have to hurt a little too. And what sick fuck actually wants to do that?
Of course on the other side of this is connection. Sharing pain together can forge incredibly strong bonds. I only have to think back to the last funeral I attended to know that to be true.
Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.
I’ve learned coping methods to deal with losing things. I have mentally compartmentalized a part of my budget for replacing things I’ve lost. I’ve learned there is no benefit to punishing myself twice by beating myself up about something I lost. And I have come to appreciate the near-magical effect money can have in smoothing over these kind of bumps in my life.
I’m also learning to be more mindful and implement strategies to address the problem. I check around me every time I leave a new place now. Everything has a special place in my backpack and I force myself to put things away immediately. Nothing is allowed to be loose or on the seat when I’m hitchhiking or taking a cab. These things help but I’m not sure they’ll ever completely blot out the “pulling an Alasdair” phrase that’s entered my friends’ and family’s lexicon.
These aren’t the only things I’ve lost during my travels though. Prejudice, fixed ideas about how the world works and a scarcity mindset are others (although admittedly these things often return free of charge).
It reminds me however that some things are worth losing.
P.S. Over the two days I spent on a couch in a shared apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia writing this I witnessed two travelers (independent of each other) searching for things they’d lost: their passport. I’m not the only one.
**Photo was taken in a park in Prague, Czech Republic.