What’s In Your Wallet
You can tell a lot about a person by what is in their wallet. My wallet is quite large at 7”x 4”x 2”. I hold it when I walk like I would a clutch. It was given to me many years ago by one of my dearest friends. When I open it up, a pile of papers slips out. This pile is comprised of receipts from items I may want to return at some point in the future, a ticket stub to our daughter’s dance performance from three months ago, an admission pass to an aquarium I really enjoyed, and some customs receipts for orders I shipped.
Now for the plastic stuff: a couple of debit cards, an insurance card, driver’s license, and local buying club card. That’s all fine and I can live with this. However, in an inner wallet pocket is a collection of cards I have accumulated over the years. A video rental card from a now out-of-business store, expired library cards, etc…
In actuality, I could carry a much smaller and simpler wallet and still have all of my needs sufficiently met. When I think about letting this wallet go though, I feel a sense of sorrow. After all, this was given to me by one of my dearest friends. I can’t help but be struck how my relationship with my wallet is a direct reflection of my relationship with the hundreds of pounds (about 20 boxes) of extra belongings I have carried around for my entire adult life.
Soon I will be forced to go through these boxes and make some tough decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of as we prepare for our big adventure. The words “impending doom” come to mind. Will I know which things I can live without? Will I make a dreadful mistake and later end up having regrets? For as long as I can remember, I have carried around a collection of sentimental letters, photos, cards, trophies, and even some of my baby clothing. To make matters even more interesting, I have started heirloom collections for both of our kids, who at the ages of 11 and 14, already have about five boxes each.
A very good friend of mine recently celebrated her 45th birthday by burning a box of letters that she had similarly been carrying around for her whole adult life. She did it ceremoniously and beautifully, reading each one before burning it and feeling the gratitude of how each one of those people had left a mark of love in her life. It was not vindictive or negative in any way. In the end she felt incredible liberation and elation. As she described her process to me a few months ago I had been unable to imagine doing the same thing. Now, I’m more drawn to her experience. My argument for hanging on to relics of the past feels unstable and I am forced to ask myself, what is it exactly that I am saving these things for?
I’m not suggesting that I am ready to burn all of my letters. Nor am I suggesting that anyone impulsively rid themselves of their prized possessions. What I am noticing is that perhaps, I am ready for a life in which I don’t have to carry such a heavy load. Would I even notice if those things were gone? Honestly?
Thinking about these things draws me deeper into fear and I feel a great burden in having to make the right decisions when we go through the garage sometime in the not too distant future. I am glad I don’t have to do it today. I am grateful I have the luxury of some time (about ten weeks) before our departure date. For today it feels like enough to just think about getting a smaller wallet.