What we choose to carry with us every day is not a simple decision, and it often determines how well we can help someone solve a problem. If I have a pocket knife I can free you when you’re tied up by pirates, as well as open an important Amazon Prime envelope you’ve been expecting. If I have pen and paper I can capture those song lyrics we both love, as well as accurately record a complicated Chick-fil-A order so as not to disappoint the granddaughters.
One my creative mentors, Austin Kleon, wrote about artist and painter, David Hockney, who had a special pocket sewn into his suit coats for a sketchbook, and the musician Arthur Russell who had pockets sewn onto his shirts so he could carry around a pen and a pocket notebook for musical ideas. My own example? I carry 3x5 cards in my pocket, folding lengthwise, for taking notes and recording observations, a practice I learned from Anne Lamott.
But unless I am willing to wear a utility belt (or its cousin, the fanny pack) or carry a man purse (murse?) I am limited to carrying only what will fit in my pockets. That requires picking and choosing.
I used to carry a book everywhere all the time, meaning I was not only entertained but also productively engaged whenever I was stuck waiting at the doctor’s office, or airport, or ballet class, or at a red light. Then one day to my displeasure and embarrassment I realized I had shifted from reading good books while waiting to relying on marginal entertainment on my phone. I had traded enlightenment for distraction.
So I stared carrying a book again. But it was harder to keep up with and more cumbersome than I remembered from the old days. Then I had a bright clever idea, only ten years after everyone else had it, to use my phone to read eBooks. I put the App on the front screen to make sure I saw it often. I know it sounds goofy nerdy but since installing the app I’m feeling better about my pockets.
What am I carrying in my pockets today?
Wallet: an assortment of plastic cards (security key, Cracker Barrel, insurance, Visa, Library), Driver’s License, $37 in cash (plus my secret stash))
Pen: Energel 0.7mm, blue, with a cap so it won’t leak in my pocket
Change: $ 0.42 (two pennies, two nickels, and three dimes)
Keys: Toyota Tacoma, house, Midland Yoga Works, office, mailbox (I used to have a key to my church so I could get in at 6:00 am for Iron Men, but I loaned it to someone and I don’t remember who it was), small Swiss Army knife, “fish” symbol given to me in the 1990s to remind me whose I am. I’m stingy about adding anything to my key ring since it has to ride in my front pocket; every device or key has to earn its way onto the ring.
My iPhone, which the closest thing to a MacGyver Swiss Army knife as far as solving daily problems and continually rescuing me. It’s my camera (which I didn’t even need to carry just a few years ago), computer, photo album (way better than the plastic fan-folds I used to carry in my wallet), address book, calendar, calculator, personal entertainment source, FM radio for NPR, alarm clock, Bible, map, GPS, dictionary, weather station, conversion chart, calorie counter, video viewer, cycling odometer, eBook reader, music tuner and practice tools, math conversions … and, I almost forgot, a telephone.
Whenever I empty my pockets on my bathroom counter I think about a song by Eric Bibb:
I got a pocket for my keys, a pocket for my cash
One for my ticket in case I got to leave town fast
My favorite pocket, you know the one I'm thinking of
It’s the pocket in my heart for your love.
I got a pocket for my pen, one for my book
A pocket for my glasses when I got to get a better look
But my favorite pocket, said it from the start
It’s the pocket for your love inside my heart.
I got a pocket for my comb, a pocket for my candy bar
One for my passport when I'm traveling that far
But my favorite pocket fits just like a glove
Is the pocket in my heart for your love.
How about you? What do you carry with you every day?
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32