Danshui Harbor

Danshui, Taiwan

Sometimes you don’t know how much something means to you until . . .

I looked. I looked again. What on earth?

My jewelry box was missing.

Where could it have gone?

It was late. I was tired. But I couldn’t sleep–not now. I began searching. Under the bathroom sink, behind the toilet, in my backpack, in the trashcan . . .

In the trashcan? you’re probably thinking. Are you crazy?

Perhaps I should explain.

By “jewelry box,” I don’t really mean jewelry box . . . I mean, I do, but not in the traditional wood-box-with-a-lock kind of a sense.

I’m a simple girl. I don’t wear much jewelry. I almost never wear necklaces or bracelets, and the vast majority of my earring collection (which is all of about seven pairs) is made up of tiny, inexpensive pieces that, until last night, I kept in jewelry-sized cardboard gift box on my bathroom counter.

And now it’s gone. And I have no idea where it went.

It’s a sad case of over-zealous cleanliness, I suspect. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a clean freak—I probably cleaned that counter top five times last week. Perhaps my tiny box got tossed into the trashcan with Windex-covered paper towels when I wasn’t paying attention?

And maybe it shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s not, really. After all, since none of the items were expensive, they can always be replaced, right? But, but . . . See, although inexpensive, many of the earrings held sentimental value. I distinctly remember buying the gold pair with green specks, for instance, from the man who sold Pakistani burritos at the night market in Danshui . . . Or the time I found “diamond” studs I found while dragging my sweet friend R around the malls in Hong Kong . . .

And suddenly there’s this heaviness on my heart. Something I held precious is gone. And although I know it’s silly and, ultimately, not that important, I am sad. It’s never good to place too much value in material objects that can be lost or damaged, and yet it’s hard to avoid in this materialistic world, which is all we know.

Have you ever lost something important to you?

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Oscar Wilde

Image: Mine. All rights reserved.

46 thoughts

      • Lol. That’s very sweet of you. But no matter what, I’ll be just fine. The good thing about not having a lot of jewelry is that (sentimental value aside), it isn’t much to replace! :)

      • You live a very minimalistic lifestyle, don’t you? I noticed your room in Hong Kong (that’s where it was, right?) was clean and sparse. I admire that about you. I wish I could be more OCD.

      • Haha. Actually, that picture was of my room in Taiwan. But my room in Hong Kong looked similar! I guess you could say I live a minimalistic lifestyle—I don’t go out much and dress pretty simply. It’s just how I am… But the world needs all kinds! It’s okay if you’re not OCD. Sometimes my OCD is over the top. ;)

      • No, I’m very OCD. But mine haunts me in different ways. Sometimes I’ll get halfway to work and then turn around, drive back home, and make sure I unplugged the George Foreman grill. Paranoid, neurotic, jittery stuff like that. I’m always checking things and chattering to myself. I’m a neat freak too, but somehow my apartment is still too messy for my taste. That’s why I adore your Taiwan room. I want to achieve that level of tidiness someday.

      • Lol. Well, I won’t say it was that neat all the time! I always put everything away (and everything has a place), but of course my bed looked messy sometimes… Plus, the room had to be extra neat and clean for photos!

  1. i hope you will find your jewelry box.. maybe try to relax your mind and do meditation. then try to go back to your memory and try to recall what you did for the past 3 days… Recently I lost my cellphone which is important for me because all my contacts are in there.. but you know sometimes its a funny thing that when you fed up of trying to search for your lost item then suddenly you will going to find your lost item in a unusual place (in which the least place you will search on) and make you think how this thing get it there… have you experience this thing also? are you considering buying new jewelry box this time?

    • Yes, Mark! I’ve had that happen to me, too. When I’ve given up hope, my lost object returns in the most unexpected place imaginable. I hope that that’s the case this time… I haven’t tried meditating. Perhaps I will!… And, no, I haven’t thought about buying a new jewelry box yet. Right now there’s no point: I don’t have anything to put in it!

    • Thanks so much. I hope they turn up, too. I’ve never been comfortable in or felt a need to have a lot of flashy stuff—it’s just not me—and that’s probably a good thing: I don’t have a lot of money to spend on that kind of thing, anyway!… Not to mention, I’d rather spend what I *do* have on travel. :)

  2. It is the Little People – they take things and if you ask they will bring it back. Just tell them you really miss it – they are always stealing my cookies – but I am happy they live here! Look em up under Crow Myth – or Chief Plenty Coups – they are very real here in Lodge Grass, Montana and they always humor me…

  3. Ohhhh:( I totally understand this. Expensive or not, it’s about the meaning behind them.
    Well, just in the last few months I realized that I didn’t remove 1000’s of pictures from my trip to Ireland from a computer we recycled prior to moving to Korea. I’m pretty sure they’re all gone. So strange why I wouldn’t have been more diligent; I usually am.
    I know it’s not the end of the world, but it took me a while to recover from that one.
    I understand.
    I really, REALLY hope you find them!!

    • Oh my goodness! I would have a hard time with that one, too. Trinkets like earrings are one thing, but pictures are another! I know what you mean about usually being diligent, too. So am I! That’s why it’s so hard to figure what on earth happened to that little box. Thank you so much for reading and for your concern! You are so sweet! :)

  4. Maybe your jewelry is with all of my lost jewelry up in jewelry heaven. I know how things like that depict memories like songs and pictures. I love the bitter sweet feelings I get from those memories and hate losing my muse. I had a small purse wallet stolen in NYC while bending over to choose a donut in a bakery. I left it sitting on the counter and when I stood up it was poof gone! I lost about 100 dollars but mostly I lost trust and became less naive. I lost some of my foolish carefreeness. I am way more responsible but it came at a price that wasn’t just money. :(

    • Oh, Terri… I’m sorry to hear about the purse wallet. My dad got mugged once in Chicago. I’ve been pretty lucky so far in my travels, but one can never be too safe. I think songs and pictures are more important than trinkets. Certain songs still transport me directly back to the 6th grade, or to working out on the rooftop of my apartment building in Taiwan. Those are things no one or thing can ever take away.

  5. Oh dear, may the jewelry box mysteriously turn up soon like it mysteriously vanished. You never, know, it might reappear! It’s funny how we actually have much love for the little things we don’t pay much attention to. Can’t remember off the top of my head something important that I lost. But I was extremely devastated when my Game Boy died a natural death. I had so much fun playing with it for 10 years, I thought I would have it for the rest of my life and one day it decided to call it a day :( Come to think of it, I don’t remember throwing it out with the trash… Now, where on earth is it…

    • Haha, Mabel. Thank you! I hope it mysteriously turns up, too. It hasn’t so far, but I haven’t totally lost hope… yet. But you are right on when you say “love for the little things we don’t pay much attention to.” That is exactly how I felt when I realized that that box was gone… And I’m sorry to hear about your Game Boy! I had fun playing with one of those, too, when I was a kid. Now, that seems like a l-o-n-g time ago…

  6. “It’s never good to place too much value in material objects that can be lost or damaged” – i think not only in material objects, some “friendships” too, unfortunately.

    • Mmm. It makes me sad to say I think you’re right about that one, Sam. I suppose that’s why they always tell us to choose our friendships carefully…

  7. I find these days I am more surprised when I find things! Latest find- my passport (lost for 5 weeks) latest loss, a clients hearing aid I took for repair (have bought him a replacement $£OUCH!) and I’m a serial purse loser :( see, there’s always someone more lossy than you in the world :D. Fingers xt for the return of your treasures, they’ll come back just when you forget you lost them :)

    • I’m glad you found your passport, anyway!! That’s a big one to lose. And your purse? Ouch! I’m hoping your wallet wasn’t with it, too? I’ve been one to “lose” my keys before—usually I’ve left them in a coat pocket or even dangling in my front door! Luckily I live in a really safe neighborhood. :P Thank you for the kind wishes about the return of my treasures! I hope so, too.

      Good to see you, btw! I know how busy you are! That you would take the time to read and comment means a lot! :)

  8. I know this situation, it’s a terrible feeling when one goes about misplacing things… I really do hope you find it! Things become far more valuable to the heart once they’re gone. And that Oscar Wilde quote, spot on! He’s a favorite of mine.

    • Thanks, Mike! I hope so, too, but you’re right—there are a lot more important things out there that will last for life. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  9. I hope this brings you some comfort. My girls sing it all the time:

    “I lost my keys in the great unknown And call me please ‘Cause I can’t find my phone
    This is the stuff that drives me crazy This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately In the middle of my little mess I forget how big I’m blessed
    This is the stuff that gets under my skin But I’ve gotta trust you know exactly what You’re doing Might not be what I would choose But this is the stuff You use”


  10. Oh Jess – I hope you can find the little cardboard gift box. I know life is not about the material things — SOOO NOT… but also do hold things of sentimental meaning high on my list of “energetic value.” They have power because they have emotional meaning… that is the true value… at least this is what I have learned for myself over the years. That is why sentimental photos are usually the first thing I gather when we are evacuated from our home (living near the ocean it happens occasionally). Hoping they will show up and delight you – I love my little collection of artsy earrings … so can relate! x RL

    • I am so honored by your sweetness and kind comments, Robyn! You are a beautiful soul, one can feel it… I fully agree that photos must be collected first in any emergency… I haven’t found my box yet, but I sort of stopped looking after a few days. It really seems crazy that I would have thrown it away, so I’m still hoping against hope that maybe I put it somewhere and forgot… We’ll see. If not, I suppose this will just give me more incentive to travel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! And no matter what, nothing can take my memories from me… ;) Much love to you, Jess

  11. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – our propensity to become attached to things, not in the materialistic way, but in the sentimental way. You know what I think that feeling is? The “missing” feeling you’re describing…I think it’s mourning. Everything that is conceived, born, and carried out – every action, event, conversation, interaction – every one of these things begins to die the very second it hits the air. We hang onto the objects that remind us of those events because we feel it will make them live longer. I suppose it does slow their demise, at least a little bit.
    I feel you, gentle sister.

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Lucas. As I was reading it, I said, “Ahh. I think you’re right.” It’s a strangely beautiful and yet sorrowful thing—this life. As you said, the moment something hits the air, there’s this sense that, whatever it is, it’s not going to last… It’s why we save old love letters and photographs and, yes, even silly pieces of jewelry. Truly, I thank you for this piece of insight. I wasn’t thinking about it in that way when I wrote the post—still wish that little box would reappear, lol—but there is a lot of truth to what you say…

      Thanks so much, kind brother. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

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