Some of the mismatched socks must have been in that basket for 10 years.
Week after week, my wife and I would look through the unmatched socks coming out of the dryer and peruse that basket. When you couldn’t find a match, you’d toss that sock into the basket, in hopes of finding a partner for it some other day.
Over time, it filled up with an assortment of socks, from colorful socks for little girls, through patterned ones all the way to my own assortment of terribly dull black or dark blue socks. Perhaps once a month, we’d go through that basket and find a few pairs that had been so close to matching in the prior weeks.
There were times you knew you’d find more pairs. If we rearranged a daughter’s room, you knew you’d find a handful of odd socks hidden behind a bookcase or something.
Really, though, that basket came to represent the eternal hope we all have: One day, everything would match up, and everything would be symmetrical in life.
Eventually, you realize what a silly exercise it had become. We had five or six socks in there from our days as foster parents for boys who haven’t been inside our house in four or five years. There were some socks so small that even if we found their match, they wouldn’t fit any of our children now.
So Saturday afternoon was a momentous day. After spending way too long trying to match socks up and realizing each and every one remaining was unique, we stared out at these remaining strays. There had to be more than 100 of them.
That’s when I made a dramatic suggestion: Let’s just give up on ever finding these matches. Let’s throw them out.
Sometimes you just just have to admit when what you’re trying is no longer feasible. You have to know when it’s time to move on from those mismatched socks in your life. You have to know when you’re wasting your time and energy. You have to know when you’ve become Sisyphus, rolling that boulder up a hill for eternity.
It’s not easy, though. We’re creatures of habit, even if that habit eats up lots of time with little to show for it. Occasionally you will match one of those socks and convince yourself it was worth it.
Sometimes you just have to move on and focus on the good matches you do have in your life, though. Something tells me when we’re matching socks next week, I’ll be a lot happier with those socks that will match, knowing there isn’t that chore of comparing each sock against the whole basket ahead of me. I’ll just have to ask myself why we waited so long to make the change.