I'm missing a sock.
It happened yesterday after Kobi, my cat, had his way with my sock drawer. When I was finished re-pairing the un-paired, I was left with one extra sock. (Or left with one missing sock, for you fans of negative space.) What happened to the other one?
Yeah, yeah. We all know the mystery of . . .
But I'm not here, really, to talk about socks.
I'm here for the mystery. The maddening world of the unsolved mystery.
For instance: How did the the container of cottage cheese find its way to the bookshelf in the office? Where went the e-mail never received, the one I spent at least 40 minutes writing but now I can't find in any of my folders? The asparagus fern, robust and content, all those years in the pot by the door? What made it die and flame orange overnight? And that package I waited for all day at home? Had it really been sitting on the porch the whole time?
Whenever anything inexplicable happens, I consider myself the first and prime suspect. Failure appears as the common denominator, and I've always assumed that failure to be mine. I'm an expert with the whip and paddle.
I worked for the post office for 26 years. Once, when I was a new letter carrier, I was offered a fast and tidy lesson. I'd finished walking one of my loops, delivering mail into boxes and picking up the patrons' outgoing pieces. When I returned to the truck, I tossed the letters I'd collected into a plastic tub. I was rearranging my cargo, moving that container to a different location, when a sudden gust of wind lifted the top letter right out of the tub. It was a utility payment—I recognized the characteristic brown markings on the envelope—and I watched the envelope lift with the wind and cartwheel right into the pocket of the truck's sliding panel door. In the space of a second, the letter was gone. Had I not been watching, I would never have known what had happened. I would never have known to return to the office and report the the errant payment to the maintenance crew so they could extract it from that impossible and improbable spot.
Had this situation not been resolved, I'm certain that the person who'd mailed the letter would have wondered why that payment never arrived. And of all the scenarios she or he might have imagined, surely the real story would not have been among them. The fact of what happened was a simple thing. But the truth was in the act, not in the imagining.
I've wasted a lot of time blaming myself for things unexplained. But I can't possibly be at fault for (all of) the mysteries in my world. The fact of my imagining something doesn't necessarily make it true. I need to accept the lesson of that letter: there are answers I will never have; some mysteries just can't be solved.
Hey! What's this sock doing on my keyboard?