Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Everything Speaks : Pocket Inventory : 3

Everything speaks. Everything speaks: of life, or death, or simultaneously of life and death. Everything tells us: there is a real choice to be made, with real consequences: choose life: choose what nurtures life in all its wonder and beauty: say ‘no’ to death – not literal death, for literal death is swallowed-up by life for those who choose life; but symbolic death, everything that diminishes the wonder and beauty of life.

I thought I’d do a pocket inventory, of the things I carry with me, the basics I take wherever I go, and ask: what do you speak to me?

These things are: my phone, my keys, my wallet, my watch...

My wallet
Brown leather folding wallet; the leather worn smooth all around the edges; bearing scratches across the back, scrapped by my keys, which share the same pocket...inside: to the left, membership cards, and family photos (different contexts of belonging); in the centre, my driver’s licence (for ID: I no longer drive); to the right, my bank cards (how will I invest my financial resources?); at the rear, till receipts, sometimes bank notes.

When I get out my wallet, it is to express with whom I have entered-into relationship, which says something of my values; to reveal my identity; or to draw upon my resources. When I get out my wallet, it speaks to me of these things.

The groups I choose to join reveal what I belong for, the communities I participate in, to a greater or lesser degree, the values I want to promote. My IKEA family card (creative design at affordable prices) sits alongside my National Trust life membership (stewarding our national heritage, both landscaped and built environment) – at first glance, the NT & IKEA don’t sit together well, but there is something of each that I want to celebrate.

The tokens of my identity say something of what I be for: this is me, who I am. The tokens themselves may carry information we didn’t choose, but, when I open my wallet my image looks back at me: who do I see? That face wears glasses: I no longer wear glasses (there’s a story to that, to do with identity, self-image, hiding behind a frame, a projected image, and being challenged not to need to hide). Where do I find my identity? Holding a licence to do something I choose not to exercise is itself an interesting observation on whether my identity is found in doing what everyone is expected to do, or in freedom to choose to exercise a different set of priorities.

What I spend my money on reveals what I long for, what sort of world I long for: a world in which children are forced to labour in sweatshops, or in which workers receive a living wage; a world in which resources are treasured, or disposable.

My wallet speaks to me of what I belong for, of what I be for, of what I long for. And it poses me the question: will I choose life, or death?

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