Victims of our Annual New Years Theft – Starting the year with a very clean slate

For the past two years we have met the new-year a bit lighter. Certainly not from lack of eating and drinking during the holidays, but because somebody some place decided to pick up a few of our belongings. Though initially being victim to theft feels rather upsetting and one tends to bemoan ones losses, in retrospect it can almost feel liberating. I am not hereby advocating burglaries, nor inviting people to come and serve themselves of our dwindling earthly goods. However, at the dawn of the year, when most people have over-indulged on the material front, it is important to remember that nothing is permanent and that all things we have in our possession will at one point no longer be ours, simply a lesson in impermanence.

Last year, on the very last day of the year my wallet was picked from my bag just off Ronda’s world-famous bridge. Really, I should only blame myself for having become such a country bumpkin that I think nothing can happen in our small town. Lesson learned, cash or not, I now keep it in a double zipped pocket and hold my bag underneath my arm when walking through crowed areas. Loosing a wallet is of course very annoying. I entered the New Year not only cash less, but without a single credit card, driving license or other Ids. January first was spent on hold for hours with banks in Vancouver and Madrid and credit card call centers in Delhi or god knows where, having to answer question and disclose codes I barely could recall. Then to denounce my Spanish Ids, at the local police station, which like any Spanish office is not the ultimate in speed and efficiency. But once it was all done, I felt a strange sense of lightness. Here I was, walking about without a single piece of Id. I could be anyone. Could there be a lighter way to enter a new year?

This year, also in the first week of January we discovered that ALL our art that we had brought from Canada was gone from where we had stored it for the past year and a half. The irony was that it was kept in a local convent with cloistered nuns. Our poor nuns were beside themselves, as this had never happened in the memory of any of them, even for Mother Superior who is pushing on 90. It was unfathomable to them. Hardly anybody enters the nunnery and the few who do, are trusted by the nuns. On the other hand, doors are hardly ever locked, and treasures, be it the convents own and things stored there, can in reality be picked up and brought out along other things, should one be criminally inclined.

Initially, we were understandably upset, having lost thousands of euros worth of original art, decades in the collecting. There were priceless inherited pieces, irreplaceable old family photographs and rare and original works of art from Mexico, Canada and Norway. Many pieces where inherited or gifted to us, such as some lovely embossed limited edition bottle labels given to my husband from the Baron de Rothschild family. All gone! Friends and neighbours advised us to call the police and get fingerprints off my art portfolio that was ripped open. But sending the police and insurance agents into the nunnery was out of the question for us. It would probably give Mother Superior a heart attack. We could not do anything to hurt ‘our nuns’, who had been kind to store our boxes. We felt bad enough telling the nuns about the theft, as in the end they were more upset than us about the loss.

What to do? It was just stuff. Clearly stuff we loved and cared enough about to bring along across a large ocean. However, the art came from another chapter in our life and maybe as a new year and another page is turned, we must leave our walls bare for a while, until new art will come our way. Neither my husband nor I feel upset. We have each other, we have our health, our home and our families and friends here and abroad. What more do one need, and compared to that uncountable wealth, what is a few paintings?

If we need to experience our annual theft to be reminded of this material impermanence, I am OK with that. We cannot take it with us anyhow. And when it comes to stuff, less is almost always more, even if it sometimes hurts to realize it.

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