True Stories

Life Has a Way of Balancing Itself Out

I found a diamond ring. It wasn’t an average ring either. It was unique. Regal. I wanted so much to keep it, but it wasn’t mine. I figured someone had to be feeling terrible about losing it so I spent time looking for the owner. I put up signs, checked notices in local papers and posted on lost-and-found websites. Eventually I gave up, boxed the ring, and put it away in a drawer where it remained, forgotten for about six months.

* * *

Water balances itself out constantly and it’s often useful, like fluid displacement. You can measure the volume of something, like a rock for example, by dropping it in water. The rock pushes the water out of the way and the displaced water can be measured.

Not to digress too deeply from the topic but I have a point to make. Displaced water finds a balance again. Plenty of things seek to find a natural balance like electricity, gravity, and air ─ anyway, it’s an obvious thing. Things have a way of balancing out.

* * *

I know this guy who cleans railway cars for a living. People are always leaving behind small devices like radios, iPods, cameras, and cell phones. Cleaners are supposed to turn those things into lost-and-found. Not him. He has a drawer at home that’s stuffed with things he’d lifted from railway cars. What he intends to do with all that stuff I do not know, but this guy has the worst luck imaginable ─ worse than anyone I’ve ever met. And it’s continuous. I lost count of how many times his car has been broken into. He had more scars on his body than anyone I’ve ever known. He loses jobs and has accidents. He worked for a friend of mine, but it wasn’t long before Mr. Accident-Prone was fired. (The last straw was when he stepped off a ladder into a bucket of paint.) I can’t even write about some of his bad luck because it is so unbelievable I am sure you will think I’m lying.

I know, things happen to all of us, but with him it was almost on a daily basis. I looked at it sort of like “take something, lose something” ─ that kind of thing. I don’t mean it as a moral vs. immoral issue. I just see it as life finding its own balance ─ you take something, you lose something.

It goes both ways like “give something, receive something.” It isn’t any more “religious” than water displacement (although to some that might be a religious event and if that works for you, fine).

* * *

Back to the ring. One day my daughter brought it up. “Why don’t you just wear it?” she asked.

“Doesn’t seem right,” I said.

“But it’s your style.”

“Don’t feel like I own it.”

“What do you think it’s worth?” I didn’t know, so I took it to my jeweler and a week later he gave it back with a certificate of authenticity. The more than 2 karats of diamonds ensconced in gold was valued at nearly $10,000!

Sure, it was good news, but the ring still wasn’t mine and so once again it was relegated to a box and stuffed away in a drawer accompanied by the new certificate.

* * *

December 26, 2004, the day after Christmas, was the date of the massive earthquake in south Asia followed by devastating tsunamis. I was shocked and riveted for the next forty-eight hours as the death toll rose by the hour and exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of people were dead. Homes were washed away, and families and livelihoods were destroyed instantly and on a massive scale.

That disaster struck three years after September 11, 2001. The NYC attack wasn’t easy for me and every day after 9/11, for a long time, something would remind me of that morning, and a sick and ugly pain would grip my gut.

But here were tsunamis that left nearly 250,000 people dead. It made the nearly 3000 killed on 9/11 seem like nothing at all ─ not really, but just compare those figures! The loss of human life from the south Asian tsunamis was 80 times greater than NYC on September 11! And the devastated survivors were just like you and me. So we suffered just as we had on September 11.

My daughter called me a few days after the tsunamis and said, “You have to go to south Asia. They need people with your skills. Do you want to go to Indonesia or Sri Lanka?” She knew how I felt so there was no question that I would go, only where I’d go.

I spent five weeks in Sri Lanka with two good friends. We helped Buddhist monks (many of whom spoke English) so they could help the survivors. It was dangerous. A civil war had been going on, drug addicts were rampant, human trafficking and suicide bombers were the norm. The tsunamis had halted the war but we had our share of adventure just the same: an assassination, being followed and threatened by heroin addicts, and a near kidnapping of a young boy in our care by a pedophile politician (I did not make that up). But all in all, it was completely worth it and I was glad to have the opportunity to volunteer and help out.

* * *

A couple of years ago my daughter asked me about the diamond ring. “Since you’re not wearing it I’d like to borrow it for a few weeks. I want to know what it feels like to wear a $10,000 ring,” she said.

I went to my room and dug it out of the drawer. “Here!” I handed it over, relieved that it would at last be appreciated. I told her to keep it.

The ring finally had a home!

And she did keep it. Until very recently, when she called me to say, “I’ve had a ring made from grandma’s old ring and I really love it. I’m giving you back the diamond. It’s more your style than mine, anyway.”

Oh brother! Here we go again! Five years had passed and the beautiful diamond ring, fit for a princess, still had not found its balance.

I picked it up a few days ago. When I got home I opened the pretty box lined with black velvet and satin, and admired the sparkling, emerald-cut diamond, flanked by baguettes and a bunch of smaller diamonds, and I recalled the moment I had found it. I was out on an errand, and I stepped on something. When I lifted my foot, there it was, sparkling diamonds and gold. I looked around for the owner but there was no one else in sight. It had been an eventful day for other reasons, so I remembered the date in particular.

Recalling the date I had found it was my first clue. After that things began to aligned and finally it all made sense.

The beautiful diamond ring is mine after all! The reason I know this is because I had found it the day after Christmas, exactly one year after the south Asian tsunamis. It had found its balance just over five years ago, but it took me a while to figure that out. And get this, it fits perfectly on the middle finger of my right hand. I’ve decided to wear it every day.

© 2011 Christina Moss


4 thoughts on “Life Has a Way of Balancing Itself Out

  1. Ron Kule says:

    This was a good little mystery the way you staged it. I felt like we were sitting together, and you were telling me the story of the ring. Like a sunny afternoon break over espresso or tea – a natural event between friends.

  2. vesna mihajlovic says:

    What a nice short story Christina …. so nicely told in such a nice style … this is the first time I have read something from you and really loved it … thank you for sharing ..:)

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