Found things

The flip side of lost things is, of course, found things.

That’s a set of memories, however, that is buried a bit deeper. Nothing immediately comes to mind. So I’m typing it out, mentally clearing my throat by just typing randomly, until a memory resolves itself.

Found things. Found objects? I’ve found money before. I remember working in the mall, nearly 2 decades ago, and finding a small manila envelope with two twenty dollar bills inside. No identifying information at all, just the two bills. It was after the mall was closed, and I was walking through the now-dark empty shopping center. I spent that – on what, exactly, I don’t recall. Who lost it? Were they hurt by it’s loss? Did losing it prevent them from doing something important? Or was it just mad money? I’ll never know. I may have changed a life that night. I hope they didn’t come back to find it, re-tracing their footsteps and yet not crossing my path. The money didn’t exactly change my life, as far as I can tell, beyond giving me a paragraph to blog about.

Last weekend I I found a restaurant. Not that it was lost, mind you. I’m sure the staff, the owners, and all the previous customers were doing just fine by it before I walked through the front door. But my life is much richer for finding it. I’ve already eaten there twice. Once for brunch, as I documented, and once again for dinner, the following night, with an old and dear friend. I had the chicken fried steak with gravy, and an amazing corn bread stuffing that I can still taste if I close my eyes. And an awesome spicy Bloody Mary complete with every garnish known to man: celery stalk, pepperoncini, green olive with pimento, and green bean.

Something that may surprise my readers, considering my strong atheism, is that I’ve “found” God twice. Twice in my younger years I attended a church revival and approached the preacher at the end to be “born again”. The combination of the enthusiastic crowd, the charismatic speaker, the time-tested language of salvation, and my own dissatisfaction with mundane reality and my desire to please my friends, all led me to think that giving in to the brainwashing was a good thing.

Fool me once, shame on you… The second time, I rationalized it by thinking that I was a back-slider from the previous time, even though I had done far less than my friends who were supposed to be strong in Christ had done; I hadn’t done any of the major sins – no drinking (yet), no smoking, no drugs, no sex (not that I wouldn’t have given my left arm to actually have sex, mind you). My worst “sin” was that I played Dungeons and Dragons. So fearful of the powerful damnation caused by a simple game of make-believe that, once, I snuck a Bible in a coat pocket when I went to my friend’s house to play, and while engaged in role-play, reached into the pocket and touched the small book of Bronze Age writings, seriously expecting to be burned when I did so. I was not burned. Neither angels nor demons appeared and spoke to me. I did not receive any signs of divine intervention, even though I sincerely hoped and desired for one. It was just a book, and the game was just a game.

But even in my most lamb-like state, I still approached things with an experimental, scientific mindset. I tested the claims of the preachers and pundits. Of course they were found wanting.

Since those early years, I have found something much better: I have found comfort with myself, and with the world, and all the uncertainty that it represents. I don’t need an invisible sky man or a magic book to show me how to live my life. Morals and guidance come from a rational base of our social lives, our empathy for others and the world, and our desire to better ourselves and leave a better world for our children and future generations.

That’s the best thing I can think of finding.