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Posted: June 18, 2010 12:00 a.m.

In the moment

Call it "Mis-place-ism." Call it "Lose-itis." It really doesn't matter, but I'm here to report an epidemic of it and not just at our house. I hear about it daily from one friend or another.

For example, one friend, looking for a safe place to put a ring out of sight while workers were in the house, dropped it into her coin purse. Later that day at the market, a soft ball team was bagging groceries for donations. My friend turned the contents of her coin purse upside down into the collection jar and walked away with her purchases. The next day, she panicked when she realized what she'd done and launched a mad search for the softball team and the grocery store manager. Incredibly, the team had found the ring when sorting the donations and brought it back to the manager for safekeeping. He put it in the store safe waiting for someone to call for it. Close call!

I lost my purse the other day in my own house. Coming in the back door, rushing to answer the front door bell, I dropped the purse in the dining room which is not the usual way of getting to the front door. Later that day, in a panic, I trekked several times to and from my car and through all the rooms to all the places I might typically leave my purse as I come and go in a day. I stared at each place hoping the purse would magically materialize before my eyes. I even thought of calling the restaurant where we had just lunched with friends, then realized that I must have had it with me when I left there, otherwise I'd not have had the keys to drive myself home. Then, illogically, I walked through the dining room, and there it sat. Am I going nuts, I asked myself? (On most days, my husband would say yes, even without cause.)

Another friend dropped her wedding ring into a coat pocket while away on a Thanksgiving holiday. Driving home, she realized the loss, and called back to her mother-in-law who proceeded to plow through a compactor truck looking for the errant jewelry. My friend sometime thereafter remembered the coat pocket where she had stowed her ring. She remains red-faced and humiliated to this day.

In addition to jewelry, the usual mislaid items are the essentials: keys, eyeglasses, cell phones and lipstick. Some who share my propensity for misplacing eyeglasses backstop themselves by stocking each room in the house and each vehicle with cheap spare readers from the drugstore. Have you ever lost your cell phone and called the number from your land line, only to hear, "The party you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time. Please try later." Big help that is.

My husband, being a very orderly sort, is the one who sets off a five-alarm fire when he mislays his wallet. No matter what else is going on, it all stops then and there while we both search high and low. I remain inordinately calm when he's missing something because he will never actually lose anything. It's just not where it's supposed to be and is easily found by another set of eyes. In contrast, when I'm on the hunt for one of my essentials, I am continually questioning my sanity. In my mind, it balloons into something like early on-set dementia, with Alzheimer's not far behind, and I try to remember how recently the last episode occurred so that I can begin to tally the increasing frequency of my lapses and how soon I‘ll need to be institutionalized or on drugs.

I believe we do everything we do with the best of intentions. We'll put something down believing it makes logical sense at the time and that it won't be easy to overlook when needed again. How wrong we can be.

The problem behind "mis-place-ism" and "lose-itis" is two-fold but simple. It starts with multi-tasking, what we believe is demanded by these busy times. We think the better we become at multi-tasking, the more we'll get done. In my opinion, multi-tasking is just doing a lot of things halfway. Nothing done while multi-tasking is ever done completely well. So while we are multi-tasking, we are more prone to misplace and mislay those essential everyday items.

The second part of the problem has to do with present moment awareness. How often are we ever really aware of the exact moment we are in? No, we usually forget this moment and instead think of what's going on somewhere else or what remains to be finished or the phone call we want to make or what's for supper or the fact that someone just cut us off in traffic. We lose our conscious awareness of the moment we're in while projecting ourselves into other times and situations. This is a sad failing of present times.

I'm trying this experiment of late, and I challenge you as well. Wake up in the morning and make yourself very aware of where you are - the degree of dawn outside your window. Feel the carpet under your toes as you pad to the kitchen to turn on the coffee. When you go outside to grab the paper, take long enough to smell the roses or magnolias or the freshly cut grass. Look up at the sky and notice the moon fading into retreat. When you read the paper, keep your mind right there, not on the needs of your morning schedule. In everything you do, discipline yourself to be consciously aware of exactly what you're doing and where you are. I'm finding that by focusing my consciousness on the here and now, not on what comes next, I am more calm and peaceful. I am aware of the passage of moments, not the stampede of hours and days. It lengthens the day and at the end of the day, I can remember what I've done, even if uneventful. I believe you will find yourself, as I, more grateful for the seconds and the minutes and less worried about the hours and days that rush past. And finally, I predict there will be less "mis-place-ism" and "lose-itis" if we make ourselves more aware of our moments.

Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington. Her column appears on Fridays.

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