Everyone, everywhere, is searching.
Some search for what they once had but foolishly lost. They held it in their bare hands but it dribbled through their fingers. They left it out too long and it went bad. They accidentally flushed it down the toilet. They set it on the roof of their car while they fumbled with their latte and their keys and then drove off. Later, when they looked for it and didn’t see it, the sickening image of the car roof came to mind. Ever since, they have backtracked the byways of their past, desperately combing through brush and debris, their hair akimbo, their dreams reduced to the low mutter of the abashed.
Those are the ones who had it to begin with. Some, though, search for it who never had it at all. They don’t really know where to look, except they don’t have to do any backtracking because they know where they’ve been and they know that when they were there, they weren’t even close to it.
The most difficult part of their search: they don’t know what it looks like. It could bite them in the hind end—as things so often do—and they wouldn’t know any better than to slap their backsides and shout scram. At least those who had it but lost it will know it when they see it again, although statistics show that it seldom bites the same cheek twice.
Most people think those who lost it probably never deserved it in the first place. If only they themselves had it in the first place (they tell themselves convincingly), they’d still have it in the second place. They wouldn’t have to waste their time looking for it and getting blank stares from the grossly uninterested.
To those who have no idea what they are looking for, the days are long and the nights filled with restless turning and tossing and getting up for antacids and a chapter in an old Hemingway paperback still on the dusty shelf with the original cash register receipt stuck in it from the day they bought it 42 years ago the night before the final on Modern Lit when they’d fallen asleep after three paragraphs and slept on through the exam and then had to go to summer school instead of to the ocean where they would have met a lonely tycoon and removed a thorn from his foot and then lived happily ever after. They go back to bed and stare at the ceiling until the ditzy morning drive team comes on four inches from their ear.
These are some unhappy people. They want it so bad they can taste it. But it’s the kind of taste that is hard to pin down—Vegetable? Chicken? Is it even done? Is it robust and a bit peppery with just a hint of oak? What is very sad is that the people who had it and lost it and who can describe it perfectly, and the people who have no idea at all what it looks like—they never talk to each other.
There is one other group, a tiny minority who have it but won’t let it out of their sight. They dare not take it out for fear it will be spotted by those who once had it but lost it, or be blundered into by those who haven’t any idea it is there. And they might blunder into it hard enough to break it. This little group keeps it safely guarded and spends a good bit of time worrying that it isn’t guarded safely enough. After all, it is too valuable to risk losing, too valuable to risk enjoying. It is certainly not a play thing.
In a way, this smaller group has much in common with the searchers. For both groups it has become the driving force of their lives. But while they won’t say so, they are all very, very tired of it. They would like to take a nap and just forget about it for a while.
But they cannot.
Because it is what it is.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.