When my car was stolen, about twenty years ago, I also lost a few possessions that just happened to be in the boot (trunk) at the time. The biggest loss to me was my briefcase because it contained a folder that held all of my professional qualifications.
You know they say that every cloud has a silver lining? Well, what I wanted to mention in this post was two benefits that came about through me losing that briefcase.
The first benefit was the loss of my Lemmings codes. At the time, there was an incredible addictive computer game called Lemmings. At least, it was addictive to me because I love problem-solving. As I recall there were forty problems to solve. The basic idea was that you had to rescue these little lemmings who were intent on walking over a cliff. You had various resources at your disposal and you were required to save a percentage of them.
What happens in the game is, after you solve each problem, you get a more difficult one. They are more difficult because you have to save more lemmings with less available resources. After you had worked your way through the entire forty problems, you moved up to level 2 where you got forty more problems to solve. Level 2 was much more challenging than level 1 and, you guessed it, after you have competed level 2, you moved up to the next level. There were four levels in all.
So that you did not have to start at the beginning each time you started the game, you were given a code when you completed each problem. When you next started the game, you could enter that code and pick up from where you left off. I was about half way through the final level when my car was stolen.
It had taken me weeks of perseverance to get to that point and there was no way I was going to repeat the effort. With some problems, even after you had the right answer, you also had to get the timing right, and it could take a long time to do that. So there was the first benefit of losing that briefcase – I was finally liberated from the compulsion that I felt to finish that infuriating game.
The second benefit related to the loss of my professional qualifications. One day, after the theft, probably when we were moving house, I came across another old folder. It contained all of my school certificates from when I was a child through to leaving school. I read them with interest and a little nostalgia. What did they say? William can do very good work when he bothers to try – that kind of thing.
So was I, thinking that one day, my kids would be looking through all the junk I will have left behind me and they would read all this nonsense about how lazy their dad had been and they would not find the other folder that showed how well he had eventually managed to apply himself in life. It did not seem like a good deal to me.
So, I took them outside and put them on top of a little burner we had prepared that was loaded with a few sticks. With the flick of a match, the whole thing came to life and I stood there and watched the dry old papers burn. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to watch those misplaced opinions of my old teachers go up in smoke. It was very cathartic – something like the experience I described in my post about stress.
Since then, I completed my degree, have improved my professional qualifications and have become a member of a professional body, so I now have another folder that is probably a bit fatter than the old one, so there will be some more interesting reading for my kids when the time eventually comes and, of course, I don’t keep that folder in my briefcase.
So I wanted to finish by saying that I think it is true that sometimes we do receive something of real value from negative events that befall us. If you are going through a tough time at the moment, perhaps you can start looking for the silver lining. It may well be there even if it does not seem to be at first.