Saturday, April 23, 2022

A Prayer to St. Anthony


I am obsessed with loss these days.  

This began with the loss of Papa Callan in December.  But then, since I am going back and forth to Connecticut to prepare his house for sale, I keep losing things. 

Last week, I couldn't figure out where I left my address book. Did I leave it the Car Max where I sold Papa Callan's car? Among the papers from the interviews with various realtors? Did I leave it at Papa Callan's house during the visit? Did I bring it home? Did it fall under the bed when I was working? Yes, I work in bed. Don't judge.

(Besides, Edith Wharton wrote in bed. And she didn't do too shabby.)

I know enough psychology to understand what's happening. This address book business is classic displacement. Okay, I am sad about losing my address book, but really I'm sad about losing Papa Callan.  

I've had this address book for many years. And since I am at that age where I lose people--friends and family--I must use cross-outs and white-out to delete people who are no longer with us. On this earthly plane, at least. 

I suppose if I transferred all my addresses to my iphone, when someone dies, I could just hit delete and then their name and address would be gone. Puff! Just like that. No sign that they had ever existed and touched my heart. There would no longer be any hint of how I had followed them from one home to another, like a migrating bird or the Siamese cat and her two faithful dog companions in The Incredible Journey.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn't start my address book with pencil. Then I could just use an eraser. What kind of hubris is this? I ask my twenty-something year old self. You never thought you'd lose a friend, a relation?

Apparently, not.

Long ago, a friend at Bard College told me that if you say a prayer to St. Anthony, the thing you've lost will come back to you.  It goes like this:

Tony, Tony, turn around.  Something's lost and must be found.  

I didn't say the prayer--not because I think it's a bit rude to call a saint by his nick name, but because my husband has been watching me and I think he's looking for signs that I've not only lost my address book, but I've lost my mind.

However, I learned another little trick for finding lost things from the same Bard College girl. She said that you should put an empty glass upside down on the counter and then just forget about it.

Well, I did exactly that. And then the next morning, I woke up and it dawned on me--the address book is in a bag of art supplies. I imagined that during my time in Connecticut, I would paint and send cards to my friends--the ones that are still sitting safe and sound in my address book.

I am very happy to be reunited with my address book. Truly. And you know what--those cross-outs and white-outs and multiple addresses for the friends who are like Rambling Jack Elliot and go rambling round and round--well, they are newly precious to me. And, I wonder if it wasn't so much that I found my address book--as my address book found me?

In any event.

Creative Friends--here's your assignment for this week.

I want you to slow down. Focus on the real, not imagined sorrow. 

And love your friends and family now, while they are still in your address book or phone or cloud space or whatever.

Finally, have fun.



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