If there is one lesson I have learned about myself, it’s that everything has to have a place or I will lose it. The only way I manage to find anything in this world is by putting things back where they belong. The moment I don’t, it is a recipe for disaster.

That’s what happened to my car keys last week. I failed to put them back on the key hook just inside the front door as I always do. There are usually good reasons for forgetting to follow my simple self directives. In this case, I had my hands full of groceries, Beatrix’s bag of stuff, and her doll, and blanket. You know, good excuses.

I remembered having to take all the stuff out of the car and putting it on the ground while helping her out of her car seat. Then helping her up the steps to the front door while juggling all these things. Then putting the stuff down again while I fumbled for the house keys (which I keep on a separate ring). But now, not even an hour later, I need to leave out again and I can’t find the key to the car. I mean, I must have done all of those things to get in the door when we came home, and the house keys were hanging on the right hook, so what could I have done with my car key?

I looked everywhere. I looked in the pockets of the jacket I was wearing. I looked on every flat surface between the front and back door of the first floor of our home. I asked Beatrix several times if she had taken them to play (as she is want to do with keys sometimes). I traced my steps back to the car and did everything short of ripping out it’s interior in the odd event I set them down somewhere while getting her out.

Finally, exasperated, I decided not to leave — as if I had any choice considering the circumstances. By this point, I was crazy with confusion, frustration, exhaustion, and loss. Where we were choosing to go just could not have been that important. I went back inside the house, took a few calming breaths, and sat down…

…On my car keys. I must have put them in my right back pocket, the one I never use, because my hands were full. All that looking, all that searching, all the frustration and confusion, and there they were, right there with me the whole time. Poking me in the ass even. I just did not stop long enough to feel them.

Happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, love… All these things work the same way. The more you search for them, the less likely you are to find them. Stop, take a breath, sit for a short while. You will find that these things were right there with you the whole time. You just have not stopped long enough to feel them.