on losing things, and realizing what you’ve lost when you find them

Realized this evening that the diamond stud that usually resides in my right earlobe was missing.

Had a vague recollection of something pulling on my ear earlier today, but knew I hadn’t put in any earrings this morning (because the diamond studs are in the 2nd hole, and never come out), so I didn’t pay any attention.

Was instantly quite upset, and quite surprised that I was quite upset.

I’m not really a “thing” person — it’s just jewelry, it’s just an earring. And not that big of a diamond or anything, so it’s not like we’re talking “family jewels” or anything. But I was upset. So while I turned on what I call the “drunk lights” (it’s a long story) in every room, and lay down on the floor and peered this way and that trying to see if I could see anything, and swept in corners and scritched through the contents of the dustpan, I kept wondering why I was upset.

I found it, after 10 or 15 minutes, which really isn’t all that long, considering that it COULD HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE. Have no idea why or how it came to be where I found it, or when it fell out of my ear. And even after I found it, I was still upset.

I think I know why.

First Husband, who wasn’t really all that good at buying me jewelry (an emerald ring from Kmart ofallplaces, for example), had bought them for me when I completed my doctorate. I had the second holes pierced for them so I could leave them in all the time.

I began my pursuit of my DMA when First and Second Son were 9 and 6. I spent 5 grueling years studying and practicing and teaching (visiting instructor position my last two years), thinking that at the end of it I would have the credentials to get a “real job” as a full-time, tenure-track member of a university faculty. Since everything else in my life that I had wanted and tried for and was qualified for I had pretty much achieved, this seemed like a gimme.

This has failed to happen.

Other good things have happened since then, but I am realizing these days that my current professional life looks an awful lot like my professional life did before I pursued this degree.

So what was it all for, one might ask?

Good question.

I am a firm believer that self-improvement and education in any form are only good things.

But still.

Nobody does this just for the sake of their own edification. At least nobody I know. Or nobody sane.

I had been reading The Street Sweeper over the past few weeks, but found its apparent lack of editing and generally dark and gloomy tone a bit much for my current state of mind (false imprisonment, Nazi Germany, etc. etc.), so I picked up Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions a few days ago and have been tormenting Husband the past few days reading funny bits to him while he’s trying to get his work done. There’s a line that particularly applies, which I am kind of chanting to myself like a mantra right now:

. . .backwards is just as rich as forward if you can appreciate the circle instead of the direction.

It’s so true, and one of the hardest things to believe.

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