Starting in early 2015, the same week as the Charlie Hebdo shooting, several French citizens working for Air France made it their mission to embark on a two-month long, Sherlock Holmes style investigation to reunite a lost diary and its owner (me). This is the story of how the kindness of these strangers has impacted my life and how the power of positive thinking may have impacted theirs.
January 10, 2015
It’s a full week after returning from vacation in Paris when I reach for my diary in the nightstand drawer and find that it’s missing. At first I stay calm and get out of bed to check the empty luggage, stowed away in the guest bedroom closet. It’s not there. Did I ask my husband to carry the diary in his briefcase on the way home from France? I check the brown leather briefcase that I proudly bought him two Christmases ago. It’s not there either.
A tinge of panic sets in and I begin to investigate all sorts of places in my home where I never keep my diary, just in case. It has to be in this house. I have to find it. Please God, let me find it!
I desperately sort through all of the bookcases, check the storage ottoman in the den, and ravage all of the closets. But the diary isn’t anywhere.
I thunder up the stairs and into the master bedroom where my husband is lying peacefully. He always falls asleep first. I envy that of him. With complete disregard for his slumber, I say in a breathless voice, “Hun! I’ve lost my diary! It’s actually gone! I can’t believe it.”
My husband opens his eyes into half slits and peers at me. He knows my tone. He knows that this high octave is soon followed by tears. He waves me into the bed.
I lie down beside him with my heart racing, knowing that somewhere between DC and Paris my secrets and musings are vulnerable, available for any stranger to snatch up like hot cakes off a griddle. The thought of this is just too much to bear. I start to sniffle. My husband tries to console me and says that he will help me call the hotel we stayed at in France, near the Luxembourg Gardens. He says he will also call the airports that we traveled through, to check about lost and found items.
I appreciate his help and his attempts to console me, but I start to sob. I feel sorrow for losing nearly two years’ worth of recorded memories. I also feel fearful that whoever finds my diary will cast it aside like a day-old newspaper. Or worse, whoever finds it may actually read it!
I try to rest but sleep stays just one step ahead of me for the next few hours…
This is the first diary I’ve lost out of dozens that I’ve kept over the years. Foolishly, I don’t have my contact information written in it. I never fathomed that I could ever misplace something so important. There is no hope in finding it.
Losing the diary feels more personal and upsetting than losing a wallet or expensive jewelry. Those possessions are not more valuable in my eyes. Plus, when you lose something of clear value, you feel like there’s 50/50 chance it will be found and turned in (or stolen). The precedence for returning a diary that doesn’t possess any contact information and is in a foreign language (given that I lost it in France)?! Well…I’ve never heard of it happening.
January 28, 2015
Over the next few weeks after losing the diary, I wonder if I should start re-recording things. Every time I reach for the extra unmarked diary, that I happen to have on hand, I get a sense of unease. Something doesn’t feel right. I can’t come to closure over the loss. Instead, my mind runs over the countless memories I want to preserve, as though mentally rehearsing them feels more manageable than writing them down.
I wonder if my diary is at the bottom of a dumpster behind Charles De Galle airport or perhaps, has made its way into the trash in Amsterdam, where we had a layover. I wonder if someone picked it up, riffled through its pages, and tossed it aside, or if some curious stranger decided to read it, entertained by my ardent attempts to put even simple things into the silver lining of life. Will he or she think that I’m pathetic? Will there be laughter? Will it get passed around, for amusement’s sake, in the break room at work?
The diary that I lost in France has “Daily Positives” written plain and clear across the top of the first page. Albeit the rest of my handwriting is sloppy and atrocious by many standards…I’ve been told by more than one person that I don’t have a girl’s penmanship. My contact information should probably be written on the first page but nope, just Daily Positives, followed by hundreds of my daily activities.
So what are “Daily Positives?” They are simple notes that I write about the day’s happenings, both the “good” and “bad,” but each is given a positive spin. The practice is not to be unrealistic about life but rather, to find new energy in positive thinking and to move forward from each day choosing to look on the brighter side of things. It’s not always easy, as you can imagine.
I started this practice when I was in need of a little perspective shift. It was 2009, shortly after the American economy spiraled downward, when I was hit by a car. I was riding my bike to work and boom. It happened. My life was changed with no warning whatsoever, while birds chirped happily away in the early spring air. The pain I endured for the next few years was both physical and mental. I became an insomniac. I started to feel hopeless as each therapy and treatment I tried seemed to fail me. At long last, I decided that I would find a little something positive every single day, to write down in my diary at night. It helped me fall asleep a little faster. It began to improve my emotional stability. It started to heal me.
February 6, 2015
I continue to wonder about the lost contents of my diary. Has someone read about my many attempts and failures at entrepreneurship? The shocking news my OBGYN dished out in August 2014? The young, doll-faced girl on the metro who hesitated and then said to me: “I promise, I usually never do this…and it might sound weird, but…err…okay, the thing is, I really feel like God wants me to tell you that everything is going to be okay.”?
Does the reader of my diary think I’m crazy for trying to put a silver lining to my encounters with people like the homeless woman I met in Chinatown, who was wailing, “Help me! Somebody, please help me! My God! Is everybody too busy? Everyone’s always so busy. Too busy to help me. Oh, please. Just somebody help!” Or my cab driver one night, whose young niece and nephew had been killed just hours earlier in a mid-December school attack in Pakistan?
There are so many memories that flash through my mind’s eye. As I remember each one, I feel raw anxiety…there’s no chance I can recapture these moments in all of their detail…
February 25, 2015
I receive a message via WellnessWinz’s blog contact form. It’s from a man with Air France Customer Support who writes:
“Hello. Please contact me by mail about your “Daily Positives” which was found at Charles de Gaulle airport. Thank you.”
In that second, my mind starts running wild – someone actually FOUND my diary?! Should I be over-the-moon or terrified? How did someone figure out that the diary is mine? Then the obvious hits me: the blog!
Yes, of course! I wrote about starting the blog in the diary. But this means that someone must have read at least part of the diary in order to get it back to me! Who would take the time to do that? Who would scan the pages until finding the single incident in the diary where I mention the name of the blog?
I hesitate before deciding to swallow my pride. I embrace humility and gratitude.
Feb 26 – Feb 28, 2015
Over the next few days, I learn that a female supervisor at Charles de Gaulle airport is the one who found my diary. She wrote to me via email that she held onto it because “it was so personal that it was just not possible to drop it.”
My new French friends at the airport apologized for the “necessary indiscretion” that enabled them to take on this “Sherlock Holmes investigation.” Easily forgiven, of course.
These employees at Air France took it upon themselves to spend their valuable time trying to find me. They swallowed potential feelings of embarrassment for having to disclose that they perused the contents of my diary in order to find clues about its owner. When they finally found the only solid clue in the diary’s pages, they immediately searched online for WellnessWinz and contacted me.
Air France safely returned my diary to me, saying via email, “Air France is pleased to pay for this happy end story…a new positive item for your diary.”
This happy ending is indicative of the fine customer care at Air France, and also of the beauty of the human spirit. We feel less alone when we acknowledge the struggles and joys of others, akin to our own. In our own way, we all strive to discover the daily positives.
March 16, 2015
Part of this blog’s mission is to focus on various dimensions of wellness. Emotional wellness is definitely a piece of this journey.
So, my final words of gratitude: Air France…you just filled my emotional “love tank”…big time. Thank you.
Yours in health and wellness,