Monday, August 10, 2009

The Things we carry (by Billy Coffey)

Though never a boy scout (both literally and figuratively, I suppose), their motto is one I have come to adopt as my own.

“Be prepared,” it says.

Sage advice, if you ask me. We may not be able to render ourselves immune from life’s calamities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lessen their sting. What better way to do that than equipping yourself with all the necessary tools to head off any potential messiness?

Which is why I tend to carry a lot of things around with me every day.

One of the few advantages women have over men is the accepted policy of carrying a purse. A woman’s pocketbook is almost an extension of her being, and endless chasm of makeup and receipts, Band-Aids and stashes of candy. Or so I assume. Men are not allowed a look into women’s purses. It’s forbidden.

Men are not afforded such luxuries. Oh, I’ve seen the Man Bag in the fancy magazines and catalogs. But no one could get away with that around here. Around here, men who carried Man Bags would go by a different name—women.

It’s pockets for us males, and my pockets are generally full. Wallet, Blackberry, personal keys, work keys, knife, notebook, pen, and usually some sort of small book (currently, a shrunken-down edition of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet). That’s a lot of baggage, I know. I figure I add at least five pounds of pocket stuff every day.

But it’s not just Stuff. Not really. The contents of my pockets are the necessities for daily survival. I’ve tried thinning them out. Tried going without even one item in my pocket inventory. Every attempt has been met with absolute failure.

I need my wallet for obvious reasons. It holds my money, my debit card, my insurance card, and my driver’s license. It’s the only thing in a man’s possession that approaches a woman’s purse, and its contents reveal more about his personality than most anything else.

My Blackberry is my link to the outside world. Part cell phone and part secretary, going without it would be pure hell. And yes, being a redneck who’s so attached to technology is ironic. But that’s okay. I’m an ironic sort of guy.

I need personal keys to get me where I need to go and work keys to get me through the day.

I need a good book to satisfy my lonely moments and provide me with some much-needed inspiration. “A room with no books is like a body without a soul,” said Cicero. That goes for a person, too.

Pen and notebook? If I’m going to remember anything, I need those. I have the memory of a fruit fly.

And a knife? What self-respecting man can walk around without a knife?

See what I mean? Subtract one, and I’m in trouble.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday evening when I came home from work and emptied all of those things onto the dresser. That seemed like a lot of things to have to haul around to survive a normal day. But then I started thinking about all the other things I carry around to do just that. Things besides what was in my pockets.

I carried my faith, for one. Faith that it all means something, that all is not meaningless, and that even if I’m not where I should be, I’ll get there someday.

I carry my head to deal with myself, and my heart to deal with others.

I carry hope so I can hold my head high, and humility so I can bow it without reservations.

I carry understanding so I can know that every person I meet is fighting their own battles and waging their own wars.

I carry curiosity and wonder so I can see the beauty that I would otherwise miss.

And I carry memories of my past, both the good and the bad, so I can be reminded that the quality of tomorrow depends upon the decisions I make today.

Things that don’t fit into my pockets, but in me. I make sure I have all of them before I leave each morning. The necessities. Because just like the things in my pockets, if I subtract just one of them, I’m in trouble.


Lily said...

I carry kindness.

Without kindness, I often hit life's potholes and rarely get very far.

With kindness, I often reach my destination better than I began, and I get to encourage the goodness in others along the way.

Kindness is a smile's seed.

Denise said...

Such a beautiful post.

sherri said...

Well, first of all, Mothers especially could never carry just a few things because we daily must Save The World! (first aid kit, sewing kit, hand sanitizers, bleach pens, snacks, etc.) That's why God allowed a brilliant mind to come up with the purse invention. I'm sure it was invented by a man though- who constantly was asking her to hold something- or find something for him.

Beautiful post.

~*Michelle*~ said...

great post!

I don't think your pockets could ever get over-filled when you fill them with hope, faith, etc. God makes more than enough room with that.

Beth said...

My husband tried what he called "The Pack" a few years back. Took about a week before he went back to stuffing everything in his pockets. Poor guy.

RCUBEs said...

That's why "cargo pants/shorts" were invented for men and us, women, we have the "purse!!!"...

As long as you don't mind carrying all those things you need and they fit in each of your pockets. But there shouldn't be a problem with the "unseen things" that you need to carry with you as God Who is well-ahead in everything, created a special storage that never runs out of room and is always there when you need it- "heart"...

God bless...

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

If you carried a "Murse," would your Man Card be revoked? :-)

Whether it's in your pockets or in a Man Bag, it looks like you've figured out what's most important. That's also reflected in who you are, Billy.

As for me, I've had to lay a lot of stuff down. I tend to carry around a lot of ugly stuff: pride and insecurity to name two. This stuff starts out small -- like a little bit of lint in the pockets -- but it can get pretty heavy over time. So I have to turn out my pockets and do some cleaning every now and again.

Blessings to you, brother.

I like what you carry. (You too, katdish)... Carry on.

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

"Men are not allowed a look into women’s purses. It’s forbidden."


"I carry my head to deal with myself, and my heart to deal with others."

Wise difference. Noted.

Anything else in my pockets? ..

Love. Because without it, life would become a dull ache or a colorless chore. With it, my heart can laugh and cry. Give and receive.

Beth E. said...

You're right, self-respecting man - especially a SW Virginia mountain man - would walk around without a knife! ;-)

Everyone carries a certain amount of baggage with them...good and bad!

My husband wears cargo pants with lots of pockets. A man's substitute for a purse!

Anonymous said...

OH I like this! Love the stuff you carry within and not your pockets!

I love purses, and yes I'm a woman who has huge hobo purses because of all my junk which I think is necessary! I hear ya with the pen and notebook (I carry a journal) and jot down ideas and such because I'll forget--no matter how good it is!

April said...

What an incredible writer you are! This was awesome! As for me, I carry forgiveness because each one of us has faults and no one is PERFECT.

jasonS said...

I have to agree with you (though I don't carry a knife). Great post!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Billy!

Liz said...

Great post and so true! We, humans, do carry around a lot...just to make it through the day and I totally agree that we, women, have quite the advantage!
I also carry love so that I can pass it out to others and mercy so that my heart does not become cold to the hurts of those around me.
And when I go to pick up the things that I will carry with me through out the day, I pray that I will leave all the negative stuff at HIS feet!
Thanks, Billy.

Annie K said...

'Manbag' just seems so wrong. I'm glad you don't use one Billy...

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I really need to start carrying a knife in my purse. I knew I was missing something. But never fear, there are also bandaids in there. And it's all just as disorganized as my head.