Wallet Maintenance Mini Memoir

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As I don’t do often enough, today I cleaned out my wallet.  Not the money.  That’s always all gone, somehow.  But, all the other stuff – old receipts for things I’ve eaten, worn out, or thrown away, sticky notes and scraps of paper with names and numbers that no longer ring a bell or matter, expired gift cards and insurance cards, membership cards for places I’m no longer a member of or not likely to use again, public transit passes for places I’ll never be again, and business cards no longer relevant (at least for right now) – all that stuff takes up a lot of space and clutters up my search for things I do need often: credit and debit cards, current insurance cards, driver’s license, social security and military retiree ID card.

Why do I always let my wallet get overrun with ‘weeds?’  At a certain point, its fatness reflects that of my own body as the two typically adjacent things vie for space in my pants (Yep, there’s a temptation to extend and embellish that metaphor – but I digress).  The point is that, at some point, I instinctively know that it’s time to do some wallet maintenance.  I opened it and waded enthusiastically, yet cautiously, into the task.

First, I pulled everything out and lay it down.  The empty wallet sat open lazily on the desk next to a pile of disgorged paper and plastic rectangles.  Then I began sorting categorically.  Why?  I don’t know.  I guess it gave me a sense of organization and confidence to proceed further.  Maybe I was procrastinating by adding that sorting process step?  I could have just made a judgment call, as I picked up each item that I’d unsheathed from the open-top pockets in the leather scabbard.  But I … okay, I was procrastinating.

As I addressed each prospective ‘keeper,’ a somber, curious or contented tone resonated within me.  Some of the old stuff I’d lazily or expectantly kept for so long reflected an anxiety or optimism of future need or a cherished memory- maybe I’ll go back to that amusement park, zoo, or wherever that I went to once, five years ago.  One day, I’ll have more money and get these credit cards paid off.  Why did I keep that?  One group of kept items makes me smile.

These, the Dave and Buster’s game cards, recalled fun visits with my youngest son.  I always enjoyed watching him wander around with the curiosity and anticipation of winning more tickets to cash in on crap in the gift store.  It’s such an innocent search for fun and happiness.  We cheered, laughed, and groused together as the winnings and losses occurred.  Sometimes I played the same games to enhance our camaraderie or assist his chances for success when being adult-sized offered an advantage.  These are keepers, I told myself, whether or not I ever set foot in there again.  That is definitely a greater possibility than using the New York City subway pass that will expire before I ever find time or reason to return.

After I’d quarantined the Dave and Buster’s cards, I examined the rest of the contents and reflected on each’s purpose and meaning before I made the decision that I could do without and gave myself permission to cast a card into the trash.  Sometimes I felt a pang of fear or emptiness well up in my heart and I set that string-puller aside, rather than trash it or restore it to its previous position in my wallet.  I now have a drawer full of wallet castaways that will most likely never be needed again but that cling to a ‘maybe’ and lie in wait.

I then deliberately replaced the qualifying content, changing the location of several pieces to reflect revised priorities in my daily life.  Wow!  What a difference the purging and pruning have made in the feel of the wallet and how I feel about my wallet, myself, and my life.  I took a few moments to revel in the sense of pride, dignity, and peace of mind that my impromptu industriousness and emotional courage have bestowed on me.  And then I told myself, “Good job dude!  That’s enough toil and turbulence for today.”

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