Opinion: The art of losing, replacing things

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Commentary by Ward Degler

I’m losing things again. It happens when my collection of stuff reaches critical mass. Suddenly, no matter what I’m looking for, I can’t find it.

This time it’s my portable air tank. Not something easily lost, you might say, being large and bright red and all. But then you haven’t seen my shop, the shed or the barn. You could hide a Greyhound bus in my shop, and maybe the fuselage of a World War I biplane in the barn.

I’m also missing a hammer, a pair of pliers, a hatchet and a carpenter’s square. Actually, I think I found the pliers in the studio last week. I had used it to remove some paintings from their frames.

Other things are missing, too. I don’t know what they are because I haven’t looked for them yet. But I’ll need them one day, and they will have vanished. While searching for them, however, I will find some of the other things I’ve lost. Maybe my hatchet or the square.

Part of this is because I’ve reached an age where I forget things. Like putting tools away when I’m finished with them. I used to be good about that. At least I think I was. I forget.

Mostly, losing stuff hasn’t slowed me down. That’s because when I lose something, I replace it. Like a lot of guys who lose things, I now have two of everything.

My hammer, for instance. In another lifetime I was doing a major remodel on an ancient farmhouse in the Green Giant district of Minnesota. One day I was nailing cedar siding to the outside of the house. I came down the ladder, picked up another board and climbed back up. When I reached for my hammer, it wasn’t there.

For the next hour I looked for it. Not finding it I got into my truck, drove into town and bought a new one at the hardware store. Back at the farm, I walked up to the ladder and found my other hammer hanging on one of the rungs.

Since I need the air tank, I’ll probably buy another one. Then I’ll find the old one. And maybe even my hatchet and square. I’m not optimistic about the Greyhound bus, though.

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