The Keeper of the Lost

Welcome! So glad to see you, finally. I’ve been expecting you. Here, have some wine – it’s a wonderful German red, “Dornfelder Rheinhesen“, and I’ve been saving it with some of this cheddar for just this occasion.

Wisconsin? No, no, this is actually Scottish cheddar, from the Isle of Bute. Too sharp? Sorry about that, perhaps you’d like a little cookie instead. Oh, I love that look of surprise on your face! Yes, that’s an authentic Keebler Elves Magic Middle. Takes you way back, doesn’t it?

Just scoot those papers to the side, have a seat. Let me see, that would be the ending of the Drood manuscript, I’ll just file it over here with the rest of the Victoriana. You know, a lot of people think that I would have more things from the past than the present, but that’s really not the case. Oh, no, not at all. It’s a matter of scale, you see: while the past does go back quite a ways, there were just fewer people losing things and fewer things to lose. Now, just the amount of email that gets eaten every day fills up terabytes of storage. Some lovely messages in there, love, hate, sorrow, grief, lust, really an amazing gamut of human emotion. Kind of like my own personal Post Secret, if you can imagine.

And socks! Don’t get me started on socks. The invention of the dryer was like a tsunami of cotton and rayon around here. It’s a little known secret, but I’m actually one of the primary suppliers of Sock Dreams. It’s a nice little arrangement, and you know how those Portland folks are about recycling.

Yes, while the quantity has gone up, unfortunately the quality of lost things hasn’t been commensurate. I do find the occasional gem. Take a look at this – it was a prototype for an iPad killer that Microsoft was just about to launch, perfect for the creative types. Mr. Jobs had other ideas, though, I’m afraid, and so I’ve got it. You use the stylus, there, that’s it. Yes, the menus are pretty neat, aren’t they?

Oh, take your time – actually, you can have some of mine. The amount of time people lose these days is mind-boggling.

I know, that’s strange, isn’t it? The one thing there is neither more of or less of, no matter who or where you are. Ah, but what you’re doing – that has changed quite a bit. One word can pretty much explain why so much time has shown up here lately: Facebook.

Yes, it used to be two words. Looks like we lost one. Trust me, you don’t want to know which one. I have it around here somewhere.

My favorite thing? Oh, that’s easy. It’s not tangible, though, it’s just something that I keep. Well, witness would be a better word. I go to concerts, you see, and it’s different for me than anyone else. I get to hear all the notes that weren’t played, the words that weren’t sung. All the small chances and ornaments and risky expressions that the musicians aren’t quite courageous enough to put out there: I hear them. Sometimes it’s so beautiful, I weep. I feel bad for the audience, for what they don’t get to hear, for what they settle for. I suppose they can’t really miss what they never knew they could have had.

It’s the musicians who really suffer. They hear the notes even before I do, and they feel that sense of I could have as they play. They just have to play on. I’ve noticed over time, though that some performers just learn to ignore the possible, while others manage, more and more, to change it into the present. Honestly, I get a little sad with the latter. I mean, I’m glad for them, and the audience certainly loves it, but it means I don’t get to go to their concerts as often.

Certainly, the bathroom, it’s just down the hall, second door on your left. No, no, your other left, don’t open that door it’s –

Oh, dear. Let me help you back to the chair. That room is quite upsetting. Don’t worry, your heart will stop hurting in a few minutes. What was it? Do you really want to know?

Very well, then. It’s where I keep the opportunities. You know, the unleaped chasms, the unopened doors, the unsaid, the unexpressed. I’ll be honest, that’s a room I don’t enjoy going in very much. There’s so much in there these days. Again, it’s a sign of the times. The global community, the information age, the sheer amount of knowledge available. The biggest thing in there is this big huge tangled ball of self-awareness, just sulking in the corner. Oh, you saw it? Ah. Well, no, why it looked familiar I really couldn’t say.

That’s not my job.

Please, don’t be sad. I really don’t have that much from you, less than you think. Let me be clear: there’s a huge difference between something being lost and something being given. Just because you don’t have a thing doesn’t mean it’s misplaced. It’s like Stephen Wright said: You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

Yes, it all just comes back to awareness. If you know why you made that choice, then none of what you didn’t choose ends up here with me. It just becomes someone else’s.

The root of the problem, I think, is that people think that It’s too scary is a valid reason for making a choice.

It’s not. Nothing is inherently scary. You are just scared of some things. Like those lost notes, some people learn to ignore that fact and make their choice, because it’s too much trouble to dig down and figure out the why.

And that’s when something else ends up here. I’m the Keeper of the Lost.

You? Well, my friend, while I said I was expecting you, I’m afraid I don’t exactly know why you’re here.

But I’m sure you’ll find out.


4 thoughts on “The Keeper of the Lost”

  1. It will take me a bit to get everything out of this piece, but it is Important. I can’t say much more than that at the moment. Thank you for writing it, and thank you for writing it today.

    1. I’m glad it resonated. I don’t think I’ve gotten everything out of it either. The Idea Fairy just showed up yesterday morning and said “This is what you’re going to write.”

      Everything has its time, I guess. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it!

  2. “All the small chances and ornaments and risky expressions that the musicians aren’t quite courageous enough to put out there: I hear them… [I]t all just comes back to awareness. If you know why you made that choice, then none of what you didn’t choose ends up here with me. It just becomes someone else’s.”

    This idea will be tumbling through my brain this weekend. Quite thought provoking, to say the least.

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