I lose things all the time. Actually, I leave things behind all the time—water bottles, hats, coffee travel mugs, clothing, and the like. For most of the last decade, I have worked with—and in—schools all over the country. That means there are lots of different places where I can leave my belongings behind. Usually I get to reunite with my lost items after a few hours; sometimes we never meet again. To reduce the frequency of leaving my belongings behind, I have developed systems for packing up and keeping track of all my stuff. I work hard to try to keep all my belongings with me, but inevitably a slip-up arises from time to time. Last weekend, I had an epic fail.
I left my carry-on bag for my weekend trip to Tampa ON THE BUS. I realized my mistake as soon as I got off the train at Reagan National Airport. This was the bag with all my medicine for the next three days and my iPad and all my books to read and journals and the hostess gift I bought my friend for letting me stay with her and my brand-new, $3,000 sleep apnea dental device. As I counted up the value of the items I had carelessly left on a bus headed to downtown DC, I grew distraught and felt nauseous.
Standing in the Airport Metro station, I mentally retraced my steps:
That was as far as I could remember. Did I have it when I got off the bus 20 minutes later? Did I have it when I was refilling my Metro SmarTrip card at the train station? Did I have it when I was hurrying to catch the train before the doors closed? Did I have it on the train with me at all? I could not remember.
I do recall the rowdy middle school children talking about a fight that happened after dismissal while they also waited for the bus. I remember taking out my iPhone to check email and social media while the bus traveled westward. I remember putting my phone in my pocket and getting off at the Shaw-Howard Metro train station. That was all I could remember.
For some reason, I was pretty certain I didn’t have it with me on the train. I got in a cab at the airport and called Metro (twice). The second operator was extremely helpful. When she couldn’t locate the bus location using its GPS, she called dispatch to figure out where it was. By the time we reached my house, the operator had given me the bus number and told me when it should be arriving at the Brookland Metro station. I hopped in my car, praying that I would get to the train station before the bus.
My story has a happy ending. None of the passengers headed downtown decided to walk off with my bag. In fact, they reported it to the bus driver who called in a suspicious bag report to the police. When he pulled into the Brookland station at 5:25, my bag and I were joyfully reunited. I had missed my flight to Tampa, but was rebooked on the first one Saturday morning. The weather was sunny and warm on Sunday, which I spent at the beach relaxing and absorbing the rays. I was able to return on Monday without incident.
I am the queen of multi-tasking. I watch television while folding the laundry or sorting my medicine for the week. I listen to music while I get dressed and make the bed in the morning. Bus and train rides are for catching up on email and social media. I feel really efficient when I am multi-tasking; I’m able to get two or three things done at the same time. But that is a myth. My multi-tasking makes me less efficient. I wasted two hours and missed my flight to Florida, because I wasn’t paying attention and lost my bag. This isn’t the first time it has happened. On a recent trip to my native New York City, I was so busy listening to music on my iPhone that I boarded the express train instead of the local. I had to travel all the way to 96th Street and then turn around and head south back to 50th. That was more time wasted.
But I am starting to realize the bigger danger with multi-tasking is that it keeps me from being able to relax. Since my mind is distracted and pulled in two different directions, I am hyperviiglant, making sure I don’t leave anything behind. If I just paid attention on the other hand, I would be certain of where my things are located. So I have sworn off multi-tasking. I am committed to becoming the best uni-tasker in the world. I need the peace and calm that come with doing one simple thing at a time.
What about you? Are you more of a multi- or uni-tasker? What will bring more serenity into your life
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.