Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


How the Beatles taught me to be a beautiful loser Add to ...

The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by a reader. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines here.

I am a loser. Well, what I mean is I am always losing things – in real life and even in my dreams.

Last night I lost two bicycles as I slumbered. One night I lost my passport and plane ticket at the airport just prior to boarding.

Around home during the waking hours, it is usually my keys or my wallet that go missing. They show up eventually, though in the case of my keys last year, eventually was six months later, after I’d paid a fortune to Chrysler to replace my electronic car key.

The keys had somehow landed in my winter boot in storage. Since it was spring, and then summer, I did not recover them for some time. I suspect Leo, our mischievous puppy, but so far the beast hasn’t fessed up.

Other things seem to disappear and never show up again, including two wooden peace medallions (I had already replaced the first one), a mouth guard, and more than a few T-shirts that I liked very much, especially the one with a Tibetan mandala embroidered on its front.

In one recurring dream I set out on a long journey with my suitcase packed to the brim with clothing, a considerable quantity of expensive photography equipment, and sometimes even my laptop computer as well. What usually happens is that I rapidly lose items along the way with no idea where they went. By the end of the journey, there’s almost nothing left in my suitcase.

Maybe such dreams mirror the real world, where we accumulate relationships as well as material stuff as we go along, but then see certain relationships stumble or wear thin as we get older.

People move on to Vancouver or Australia, or make that trek to the great beyond we shall all make one day.

As George Harrison pointed out: All things must pass. Suck it up. (George did not say the latter bit.)

In reality, most material losses are more of a nuisance than anything else, but I would love to have back the $7,000 I squandered by investing in Arabian horses in 1985 at the encouragement of my financial planner. There will certainly be no cash back in that case.

It is, of course, the loss of relationships through fallings-out, death or different life trajectories that are most poignant, even painful.

I once contacted a buddy from my teenage years through a Facebook search. Lawrence had been a great friend when we were 16, but we had not seen or heard from one another for I hate to say how long. I thought Lawrence would be delighted to hear from me.

We arranged a phone call, we chatted and he was polite. But the reunion, or even the resumption of the friendship I had envisioned, never happened. Too much water under the bridge? Or perhaps people instinctively avoid rattling skeletons that have lain dormant for decades.

When Paul McCartney was pestered by the media in the 1970s for the umpteenth time about a possible Beatles reunion, and asked if not why not, he replied with acerbic wit: “Because you can’t reheat a soufflé.”

McCartney is correct. There is a time to consume something and a time to let it be (so to speak). Everything changes, and little if anything remains static – except those investments I thought should have made me rich by now.

Sometimes I recall articles of clothing I particularly enjoyed purchasing and wearing. All of them wore out eventually, or vanished into the ether. Maybe they garb my antimatter doppelganger. More likely my wife sorted out my stuff, but like the puppy she would never fess up.

Sometimes I wish I had bought two or three of particular things, such as those wonderfully comfortable kangaroo-leather Adidas runners I had in university. Probably such notions reflect a desire to subvert the natural order of things and this rarely works, if ever. Certainly this won’t work in any significant way in the long run, since nature is bound to trump your last hand in life with a straight that easily bests your pair of kings.

As troubling as those dreams of losing things are while they are happening, they teach me two things.

The first is that, like most other people, I carry a lot of baggage I neither need nor even want to carry. I am unconsciously glad when I am rid of most stuff. I can hear my friend Joe shouting “bingo!” He helped us move once, and both he and the mover guys were dismayed, even astonished, at the mountain of stuff we carted to our new house.

The second thing? I am reminded that nothing is forever. It’s true of material things, and can also be said of most relationships. Those of us who are fortunate manage to sustain a few important contacts and relationships over the long haul, and to create new and meaningful bonds to fill the void of loneliness as time goes on.

Anyway, when I awake from such dreams and realize that I’m okay and that I didn’t really lose two expensive cameras, my laptop computer and most of my clothing after all I am relieved.

All this is well and good, but I hope my wooden peace medallion turns up soon. Summer will arrive one day and I’d like to look cool.

Malcolm Watts lives in Newmarket, Ont.

Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail


More Related to this Story

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular