How to Find Lost Things vs. When to Leave Them Lost

See the Mongolian Sheep Knee? 
I just dropped an earring back on the floor. I need to go in to work, but I can't just let it fall. I'm worried about losing my favourite earring, and also I can't afford to let this thing nag me all day. Tim taught me to follow through before moving on to the next task.

"It only takes a minute," he said.

He told me this even though he knew me. So many things fall, and follow-through means decisions need to be made. I sometimes really, earnestly, need to let them fall or I will never get where I'm going.

I heard a tick as the round rubber earring back collided with something in its descent, just a ping of rubber hitting metal and nothing more. That means it bounced off the metal file cabinet, and then rolled across the floor. Not much resonance to the ping so I can assume it hit fairly low to the ground, and so didn't roll very far - the rubber will grip the stoneware tile and slow its roll. I turn on the overhead light, crouch to find something the same color as the tile, and I find it. I put the earring through the hole in my ear, and make it secure. Now I can go about my day.

Tim taught me the trick to finding something small and lost:  drop another one from the exact same location and pay attention to where the second one lands. I didn't have to this time, drop the other back, because I recognised the sound of hard rubber bouncing off thin metal.

Tim also taught me to trust the data I think my senses gave me, to still follow through the investigation and find out whether I was right. I can assess my observations pretty accurately. What I can't do is  measure time. Tim's Follow-Through Theory has holes.

If one is going to notice every. single. undone. thing, one will find that there isn't enough time to wrap up everything before one is expected to show up somewhere.

Sometimes you have to let things fall, and clean them up later. It was easier to let go before I knew I could see them all - easier to be oblivious. Now I have to learn to weigh odds faster, decide which things can lay where they are until I get back to them, or possibly forever. It's hard.

Know what's valuable to you.  Calculate which things can wait until later, and which threads will be lost forever if you let go of them.  Most importantly, learn to keep going if you find  you made a wrong choice, because you will.  Clean up the mess, or don't, and keep going.

Life happens regardless of our intent or machinations. Get ready for the next wave. 


  1. Oh that's a good one. I can relate to that niggling synaptic nudge that alerts you to a thing left undone. That saved my butt daily in my former career as a technical editor. I would find several issues in a manuscript and fix them all, or so I thought... but my brain would issue a faint blip that warned me if I had missed one. Multiple misses equaled multiple blips. In editing, I never, ever let a blip go untraced. In my current work as a web designer/developer, I still answer every one. In my current much slower and less demanding daily life, however, I let things go all the time, having learned at last that if little children wouldn't die of it, it's not a big deal.


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