Considering I would no longer be subjecting myself to any of that, the theft was actually a sort of liberation.

This was, after all, the car radio. Is there any device of modern life more routinely despised? I don't know about you, but I drive around, punching buttons, scanning and searching, all but sending out reconnaissance parties, trying to find signs of intelligent life on the dial. Coming up empty and infuriated, I usually end up sliding in a CD.

But I've heard all of my CDs a thousand times. Even the new ones. Especially the new ones.

So, in a way, I should actually thank the thief. In my car-cocooned solitude, not having the distraction of all that noise would give me the opportunity to listen to my own thoughts. The problem is, I discovered after only a few short trips around town, that I don't have any thoughts.

I wanted my radio back. Like an aggravating friend who drives you up a wall, it was still nice to have around. Even though I knew it was gone, I found myself reaching for its dial. It was like absent-mindedly setting a place at the table for a child who'd recently gone to college.

I missed my radio. I missed complaining about it. Now I'd have to find something else in my daily life to use as a metaphor for everything that is wrong with the world, which is not as easy as you might think.

But I also missed the thing itself. I missed the surprise of coming across a favorite song. I missed intelligent conversation to stimulate and challenge and inform me, which, believe it or not, does exist.

What I especially missed was the slack-jawed astonishment that comes when landing on something truly miraculous - I'll never forget hearing "Waiting for the Man" by Lou Reed while traveling on an autumn leaf-peeping tour through the Green Mountains of Vermont. I'd never heard that song before and I've never heard it since on the radio. I heard the entire two sides, completely uninterrupted, of the Beatles' Rubber Soul album on a station in the middle of Michigan. In Louisiana, I heard one remarkable zydeco song after another.