It’s always in the last place you look! I was reminded of this piece of sagely wisdom a few days ago. Having unexpectedly misplaced my last bus ticket, I spent a frantic and awkward few minutes at the front of the bus re-discovering just how many pockets my coat has. Eventually, I discovered the ticket where I least suspected it and the bus driver sympathetically remarked, “It’s always in the last place you look.”
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized this insight is actually a kind of definitional gag. That which is lost is always in the last place you look because, by definition, when you find that which was lost, it will always be in the last place you look — once found, there is no reason to look anywhere else.
The real punch line for me is that I remember myself as a kid trying very hard to guess where I would look last so that I could find that which was lost more quickly. I suspect I probably only figured out the gag I had missed as a kid because I caught myself employing the same strategy at a much later time when I was a little more experienced and clear thinking. It’s not unlike my discovery — probably around the same time — that I no longer needed to buy shoes with room to grow.
Has anyone else made a discovery along this lines? Because the lingering question for me is how many more of these misunderstandings I still employ, whether they were made when I was young or at a time when I wasn’t thinking clearly. Moreover, what about all the conclusions I have drawn that were sound at the time but are no longer sound because both I and my given circumstances have changed? Yikes!