Indicia of responsibilities

August 18, 2012

For many years I carried very little with me — a house key, a little cash, maybe a credit card — and what I did, I carried on my person.

The big change came with Willy’s illness and then his death.  I came to carry a full wallet, with driver’s license, cash, credit cards, insurance cards, etc., and also a full set of keys on a ring and a separate ring with another car key when I drive (Willy always carried two car keys — reduces the number of times one locks oneself out of one’s car, he pointed out), and, of course, my cellphone (I wanted to make sure my kids knew they could reach someone, namely me, because there was no one else anymore).

Recently I got some jeans that are slightly more fashionable than what I usually wear.  I discovered when I went to actually wear them to do something (as opposed to trying them on for fit) that the pockets in them are very shallow.  I like the jeans, though, and they’re actually probably more flattering in fit than my old Levi’s, so I figured the pocket issue was not a reason not to keep them or wear them.

The answer has been, not surprisingly, to carry a bag, and I have one that seems to suit (a small leather backpack with a woven textile panel), and in it I can also carry other stuff, too, like a hair brush, doctors’ co-pays, letters to mail, candy, etc.

What struck me is this: I can interpret this “forced” change as indicating that maybe I need to be able to put down my responsibilities from time to time, to compartmentalize them and not have them be so coincident with my entire life.  They are not me, where I “live” is something else entirely.  I think maybe I need to be reminded of that with a physical representation of it.

This pockets situation also accords well with a practice I’ve had for years:  I routinely empty my pockets before I pray.

So let’s hear it for modern jeans and what sometimes seems like silliness on the part of the fashion industry (with their designs that include pockets that aren’t actually useful) — these things can be helpful in their own way, too.

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