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Prepent 5774: Day 9, Cutting Our Losses

Making a mental list of the items I’ve misplaced this year, and letting it all go

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(Tablet Magazine)

Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.

Only two blocks separate my friends’ gorgeous new home in Santa Monica and the beach boardwalk, an area populated during this mid-morning hour with nearly a dozen homeless people. I walked back and forth, struck by the tension between having and not having, those who are at home and those who are homeless. I felt overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude for all that I have.

It wasn’t just a philosophical thought—an hour earlier I had discovered that I lost my wallet. I though I might have left it in a friend’s car, so I called her and left a message. While waiting for her response, I left the house and decided to take a walk down to the ocean.

I felt the anxiety of loss: dry mouth, shallow breathing, tense muscles. With each step I thought about the fragility of ownership, and how precious material possessions can become. Todd Hasak Lowy has a great short story in The Task of This Translator about a man who loses his wallet in Chicago, and goes through the various phase of material panic while CNN reports on a nuclear attack in Asia.

Losing my wallet isn’t the end of the world, of course, but it will mess up my plans—and complicate my journey back to New York. I take a deep breath and hope for the wallet’s safe return, determined to think only positive thoughts, remain optimistic, and not waste energy worrying until I know all the facts. Fear less—that’s one important lesson from this ordeal. 

But there’s another lesson here, too. I’m aware of the anxiety that I feel, and with it a rising anger—I’m mad at myself for being clumsy, sloppy, and not as careful or attentive as I want to be. With the Prepent agenda on my mind, and each new day an opportunity to observe my thoughts and behavior, I think about how much I hate losing things, and how this past year I seem to have done it quite a bit. This is the second time I’ve misplaced this wallet, and I’ve also lost a passport, a set of keys, a hat or two, some checks, and sunglasses. With grace, and the kind acts of strangers, most of those items have been returned. 

I’m grateful for that, and I’m dedicating today’s Prepent, day nine, to honoring the losses, and making a list of the things I lost this past year, and then simply letting them go. Today is also about making a solid commitment to lose less this coming year. It has to do with not only having less but also being more grounded, showing respect to each and every item. It’s about trying to be more organized, and more calm.

Breathe deep and choose hope. That became especially easy once my friend called to tell me she had found my wallet in her car.

Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.

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Prepent 5774: Day 9, Cutting Our Losses

Making a mental list of the items I’ve misplaced this year, and letting it all go

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