After recently replacing the air filter in one of my cars, I was reminded of one of life’s recurring lessons. Panic is rarely warranted. Over and over again, life presents this principle to me; When I think something is lost, it’s probably not.

For whatever reason, I seem to frequently lose things… sort of. My keys, my wallet, my Bluetooth earpiece and the garage door clicker are all subjects of frequent searches. They don’t really get lost, just temporarily misplaced.

This drives my wife nuts! She NEVER seems to lose anything. She’s not more organized, she just doesn’t misplace things like I do. Maybe it’s that monster-sized purse she hauls around. I exaggerate, of course, but there might be something to it.

Maybe it’s something else altogether, like the possibility that I’m simply losing my mind. Frankly, I don’t think so. I think it has more to do with presence of mind. I come in, exhausted from my morning run. I take the garage door clicker out of my pocket. I might set it on the counter, my desk, or the nightstand. It might then get buried by something else. You get the picture.

Sharon’s nervousness is warranted, especially when it looks like I’ve left my wallet at the restaurant. With today’s epidemic of identity theft, a lost wallet could turn out to be much more than an inconvenience. Strangely, I remain a lot more calm than she does. Between the two of us, I’m normally the more emotional one. Yep. Drama queen, here.

I attribute my cool head in these situations to one simple fact. I’ve learned, over and over again, that the thing I’ve “lost” will, 99.9% of the time, resurface. It might be through diligent search or by random appearance.

An 8mm socket is a prime example. That’s what I use to access and replace the air filter on my daily driver, a (ahem) Honda Accord. Losing a socket is something that’s just about unheard of for me. My toolbox is equipped with Hansen socket trays. You see from the photo that they have properly sized posts, labeled with the appropriate socket size. Use the sockets you need, and replace them in their home when you’re done. You instantly know if you’re missing one. Not this time.

Later in the day, I noticed that the ¼” drive 8mm socket did not occupy its assigned residence. It wasn’t on the work bench counter, and couldn’t be found in the small plastic “tub” of miscellaneous bits in the toolbox drawer. I looked around on the garage floor. Nothing. I was a little bugged, but stayed calm. I figured it would surface. Weeks later, when it didn’t, I began thinking about buying its replacement.

Reminding myself of the many times I’d THOUGHT something was lost but wasn’t, I held my ground. This, in spite of the fact that I can hardly stand for my tools to be out of order. My resolve paid off. Several days later, while reaching for another socket, I found it. On the wrong post. In this case, the socket tray has a space for a 5.5 mm socket, which I don’t have. For whatever reason, the 8mm socket got placed there.

Finding that misplaced family member was a small victory, and another affirmation of that all-important lesson – panic is rarely warranted. I find this to be true, not just with stuff, but in life and in work in general. Things are rarely as bad as they seem. Yes, sometimes they’re actually worse. But if you’re like me, you’ll do yourself a favor to just calm down when an apparent crisis hits. That little socket is evidence.

Now where is that thumb drive…