As a child, I was taught that you can tell a lot about a man by the contents of his pockets. My grandfather, a southern gentleman from South Carolina who routinely wore overalls or baggy jeans, always had something interesting in his deep, denim pockets. During the summer or when the weather was nice, he had a routine of walking to the store, or just down his street where he would routinely pick up trinkets and treasures along the way. Oftentimes it was just a penny or a shiny piece of glass, others it was the lead from car tires (used in balancing) which we would melt with a blowtorch into all kinds of peculiar shapes. Or it was pieces of plastic that he would make into handles for his well-worn tools. And he always carried a pocket knife, some of which I was lucky enough to inherit when he passed.
These days, my pockets don’t have anything very interesting in them other than a phone and some credit cards. On the weekend I do carry a pocket knife, which has 1,001 uses during weekend duties or when a lime needs to be dissected. I have one pair of pants that has had a shark tooth in it for years from a beach trip we took with the kids. It’s a good memory and I am always amazed when I reach down there and find it. By now it should have been eaten by the washing machine.
We carry with us the things we need or think we need. Or things that interest us. As a former boy scout, our motto was “Be Prepared”, which has led me to a lifetime of hoarding many things in my garage, much to the chagrin of my wife. She’d throw away everything if she got the chance and I have come home after being away for a long weekend only to ask “hey, where did that old, broken Coke bottle go?”
I collect many more things in my virtual pocket. The apps I keep, the news I consume, the shows I watch, the things in nature that catch my eye, the books I have on the shelf. The things I can’t hold. The things that are not physical but create an image. The things that grab my attention (ooh! That’s shiny!).
Attention. Funny word. Attention is the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important and it’s not to be taken lightly. Some things can take your attention for 20 years or longer, only to leave you with an empty feeling and nothing in your pocket.
I ask myself:
- Where is your focus going?
- What is it about Facebook that keeps you coming back?
- What TV shows are you interested in and why?
- When you’re in nature, what draws your eye?
- Do you like helping people? Why? Why not?
Growing up, we are taught that life is linear.
Pre-school – elementary school – middle school – high school – college – grad school – job – marriage/relationship – retirement – death.
If we are lucky, truly lucky, we will have a person or event break the pattern to help us become aware of what we truly want. Not what our parents have or the Jones’ have, but what WE want. And can you honestly answer this question? This simple and mundane question.
What do you want?
Here’s a clue. You are reading it right now. It’s the thing that grabbed you, that stopped you. Your time is precious. You came here for a reason. It’s either to read this and feel better about yourself because my writing is crap, or you know me, or… and this is even more subtle and nefarious… you are curious.
Look what’s in your pocket. Is it what you want?