That morning my hands were so swollen from a weekend of diabetes abuse that I couldn’t get my wedding ring on. So I put it on my little finger.
For many years, I’ve kept my life in reasonable order by ensuring that everything has a home. I know that when things aren’t put where they belong, they might as well be lost. Anyone who has an ad hoc computer filing system knows that once a file or folder is put somewhere “just for now” is likely never to find it again.
After I left my hotel room, I realised with rising panic that I didn’t have my wedding ring on. This wasn’t like the panic when I can’t find my phone charger, my phone, or even my insulin. This is the “miss your flight, but don’t go home until you’ve found it” panic.
So I started freaking out as I retraced my steps and headed back to my hotel room.
I’ve lost things before. My programming brain is really great at finding lost things. It’s like debugging. Once you get good at debugging, there are so many things you become good at. Debugging is what they call a “transferable skill”. You develop a belief that no matter how badly something is not working, or how deeply something is lost, by following a method, by being systematic, rational, diligent and relentless, what is broken can be fixed and what was lost can be found. But I recently lost some Altoids tins and couldn’t find them. It was the first time I’d lost something in decades that I couldn’t find. And this was my wedding ring. And a wedding ring is a lot smaller than an Altoids tin. Any cost I’d sink into finding this was going to be worth it.
Then moments after I had lost it, I had found it. I reasoned that because I was wearing it on an unusual finger, that it would have been more likely to slip off where my hand could catch on something and that would have been when I was packing my case. So I unpacked my case and there it was. I squeezed it with difficulty onto my correct finger and packed fast.
I learned two things.
1. Even when you think freaking out is justified, there is absolutely no sense in freaking out. Solutions present themselves as soon as you start to become rational. So even though my freak out only lasted a minute, it was only when I shifted to reason that a solution popped into view. I acted on it immediately and I was unusually, successful immediately.
2. I can pack a lot faster than I thought I could.