Leaving a Wallet, Finding Enlightenment.

I used to take my wallet with me everywhere I went. Obviously when I was driving, but also on walks. The first thing I would do before leaving the house would be to check for my wallet. The few times I forgot to pocket it left me feeling incomplete, perhaps even a little naked, the moment during my walk when I would discover its absence.

A few years ago though, I started leaving my wallet behind when I went on my longer walks. I wanted to be rid of the encumbrance. And I don’t mean the physical weight of the thing.

We often get caught up in the idea that who we are is defined by a number on a computer, or what we own, what we do, or in this case, the papers and documents that bear our name and follow us throughout our lives. Now for legal reasons, some of those things are of course important for any number of reasons. Yet beyond that, these are not the things that show the world what type of person we are. Nothing in our wallet shows how we treat people. What we fear. To what we aspire. They don’t show our scars nor our dreams. They do not extinguish our bad memories any more than they sweeten our joyful ones. They are merely ornament, but we treat them as extensions of our true selves. In many ways the wallet (or purse) is the headquarters of this view of ourselves.

It didn’t strike me as interesting until recently that the contents of our wallets and purses are often referred to as our “identification.” We are sort of brought up to believe this. Ergo when we lose such things, we suffer more than the obvious pain in the ass of cancelling credit cards and replacing driver’s licenses. We actually feel the horrific pangs of personal loss.

“My whole life was in that thing,” we lament.

And that says it all, doesn’t it? Yes you’ll have your work cut out for you for a few weeks, but are the contents of your wallet truly your “whole life”? As a soul are you less complete without them? I’d say no, of course. But if you earnestly feel you would be, perhaps a reexamination of priorities is in order.

A little effort every day towards knowing who we our at our core, ignoring what society says we must seek and possess in order to be whole brings us one step closer to getting to know our pure, unencumbered selves.
Leaving my wallet behind sometimes is just one small way of implementing this idea in my daily life.

Of course leaving my wallet on the table when I walk for a few hours is not in and of itself going to grant me all the wisdom of the ages here. But it is a convenient symbolism for me which serves to remind me that there is the “Ty on paper”, and then there is the far more real, more deep, (and more accurate) “Ty the person.” The twain rarely meet. Thank heaven.

Do you ever take the time to remind yourself that you are more than your career/stuff/money/position? How do you go about doing so? If you haven’t yet, what sort of symbolic gestures might you take to engage in such a step? Let me know.

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