Marie’s challenge to Celebrate the Ordinary reminded me of something I used to ask of my Freshman Composition students. Along with formal essays and the dreaded research paper, I required my students to keep a journal, informal “observations and speculations,” the first of which involved contemplating the contents of one’s wallet and surmising what a stranger might guess about the owner’s identity if he or she were to find it. Thankfully, this was before any of us knew very much about Suze Orman and her thoughts on untidy wallets, Women and Money.
My wallet is a kind of half-way house for an assortment of business cards handed to me at long-ago conferences, crumpled receipts from the Quick n Clean carwash, Dutch Brothers Coffee, “the big three” (Target, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls), movie ticket stubs, old hotel key cards, grocery store reward cards, three pennies, health and dental insurance cards, miniature family photos, Arizona driver’s license, expired and current Resident Alien Registration cards (just in case I’m pulled over in the show-me-your-papers state), and dollar bills which do not face the same direction. This last, were Ms. Orman to find my wallet, is damning and irrefutable evidence of financial disaster. Mind you, she’s not the only one haranguing us about the importance of a well-organized wallet. Just moments ago, Google led me to an article on how financial freedom is in my future if I just take the time to Feng Shui my wallet. All those receipts, it turns out, should not be kept in my wallet, not because they might be used by identity thieves; rather, they signify the spending rather than the acquisition of money. Another epiphany, thanks to the Feng Shui guy, is that pictures have no place in my wallet either, because my “wallet’s focus should be money … attracting it and holding on to it.” Given the current state of my health, my eyesight, and the economy at large, it is comforting to know my wallet might have the focus I lack. This will also come in handy when I’m asked to fill out the order form for wallet-size versions of my daughter’s annual school picture in which her eyes will invariably be closed.
Caught up in the contents of my wallet and Marie’s challenge, I discovered the ordinary thing I want to celebrate today. Right where I left it the last time I purged my wallet, folded neatly inside the little white envelope provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security to protect my green card, is a wallet-size drawing done by my girl when she still wore pigtails and believed I was invincible.
I first discovered it some years ago en route to a conference. I was at the airport looking for something important in my wallet when I found it. Between receipts and other random scraps of paper, my little girl had slipped a tiny thank-you note, certain I would find it one day, not unlike the wild flower I once pressed between the pages of my diary.
Such a certain surprise is no small thing. It is something to celebrate, elevating the everyday. Every day.