THEY say that when things are coming your way, you must be in the wrong lane. The thing is, it’s not easy to even suspect you’re in the wrong lane when you’re feeling lucky.
Every time I left my cell phone behind, despite seemingly impossible odds, it would—by some stroke of what else but luck—be found, even delivered back to me. It happened not just once, but a few times, enough for me to feel favored by the gods. And with every reunion with my lost device, I’d feel even more special.
I had a similar lucky streak in my (younger) driving years. It was almost uncanny how I always managed to find parking space, and not just any space but often one under a shade. When I bragged about it to my dad one day, he quickly deflated my ego.
“No doubt, the universe arranges it so that you can quickly get out of the driving public’s way, not only for your own safety but theirs,” he said.
I was just too thrilled about my superficial good fortune to realize I was missing the deeper lessons intended precisely for me to relearn at my age. Well, when what had to happen finally did, I was so on the wrong track.
Made overconfident and careless by my high batting average, I lost, for good this time, my relatively new iPhone at the Salcedo Saturday market. I had slipped it into a shallow outside pocket of my oversized leather bag, for easy access but with caution thrown to the wind. Alas, I made it just as easy for the phone snatcher.
A woman bumped me quite rudely as, wallet safe in hand, I was paying a vendor. The distraction, I was later told at the police station, gave the snatcher’s partner the opportunity to fish out my visible phone. I didn’t know until I needed to call my driver for pickup.
Being a more expensive phone than the first one I had lost to a bag snatcher some years ago, I had insured it, not suspecting at all that collecting on the insurance was more trouble than I thought: It gave no guarantee I’d get a replacement, which was the reason I took out the insurance against loss in the first place.
I reported the theft to the police on the same day and went back for the formal written report the following Tuesday. I had already gone to Globe on the very day of the theft for the decommissioning of the phone. I was given insurance claim forms to fill and the insurer’s phone number. The insurance company, as it happened, had moved and changed numbers.
Back at Globe—by then I had been phoneless for a week— with the police report, the insurance was finally reached, and a representative came on to instruct me what else I needed as a claimant: a government-issued ID (senior citizen card, but passport better), and four other documents, one requiring notarization.
There would also be an investigation, after which the company would decide if my claim was valid and I should get my phone replacement —in which case I’d have yet to pay P3,000, a sort of fine, I gather, for the carelessness. I had been wrong to presume the monthly premiums covered everything.
At any rate, the whole ordeal of waiting to be declared worthy or not would take at least 15 working days—15 more days without a phone! Told at Globe that my particular iPhone model, a 5S, was out of stock, I imagined yet another problem, another delay.
But what exactly have I lost? I have lost not only my connection to my world but the priceless, totally irreplaceable pictures and voice recordings of my youngest granddaughter. Yet here I was facing the possibility of being declared unworthy for no other reason I can think of than the absolutely absurd one of deliberately losing my phone.
In fact, I had just begun to enjoy my cell phone, in some hurry to learn all its amazing functions before I got to the stage of electronic dread that comes with age.
A high-school teacher of ours told us over lunch last month about a friend who got so rattled whenever her cell phone rang she once rushed to the door, opened it and said, “Hello!”
Before I myself get there, I should put into practice what I’ve learned: Express gratitude to everyone and everything I value in a more concrete way —in the case of my cell phone, by making sure it was always safe. If I had done so, I’d probably have avoided my loss and its consequential complications.
It’s a wise and happy practice to say thank you to everyone and everything, because all react positively to it. Flowers stay fresh longer; shoes give us more years of service. It is, in fact, a spiritual practice I’ve been taught and I’m desperately trying to observe: radiate positive energy for the spiritual healing of all living creatures, including our surroundings; the importance of being genuinely cheerful; being humble, expressing gratitude to God, people and things by taking good care of ourselves, other fellow beings, nature, everything; and, most importantly, the happy acceptance of God’s will even when, through human eyes at some moment, the situation might shockingly look like the very opposite of our dreams for ourselves, our loved ones or our country.
It is good to know that, as bad as it may seem, if we remember and apply these simple principles, the sooner we’d be on our way to better times.
Perhaps even the wrong lane is not such a bad place, after all. Like most people, I learn more from my failures and losses than from my triumphs and successes. There just seems no circumstance for which I don’t need to express gratitude.
What do you know? I’ve just found another reason to feel lucky again.