Empty Your Pockets

12 Jul

Don’t worry: This isn’t a hold up or robbery. Instead consider it inventory control. Let’s see what’s hidden amongst the spare change, tufts of cotton and vacant gum wrappers in the seams of your life. What exactly do you have tucked away in the jeans of your existence?

“I always had a dream that when I am asked to give an accounting of my life to a higher court, it will go like this: ‘So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around?’

And I will answer: ‘I’ve got nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I’m as naked as the day I was born.'”

— Erma Bombeck

Last Saturday, I sat on the couch next to my dad as casually clicked through the TV’s channels as we waited for my boyfriend’s

arrival; his first time meeting my pop. We landed on a PBS documentary on columnist Erma Bombeck, who I’d never heard of before. Over the next 30 minutes, I was introduced to this witty writer known for her frank and humorous depictions of life as a housewife. Her words took her across the country, into lives of countless Americans. She was absolutely hilarious. But the quote above I really love.

Think about it. What’s in your pocket? In the end, your money doesn’t matter. Your title is worthless. It’s all about what you did with what you were given. Did you bury it? Or grow it.

I turned the mirror on myself. I’m a writer. I’m an artist. I’m a connector who loves spreading the word about good causes, events and people. How do I empty my pockets of these talents and skills? How do I grow them to a place where I can point to them and say I’ve done everything in my power. I consider my talents children. Which makes me a metaphorical mother of three.

There’s Painting, the eldest and most reliable. There’s my middle child, Writing, who’s a bit temperamental and always hungry for attention. And then there’s Acting, the shy one who needs to come out of her shell. Each is my responsibility to raise, grow, nurture and develop. I can’t spoil one and neglect the others. Because at the end of the day, I’m responsible for what I’ve done with them. Starving them of the resources they need to survive and thrive is abuse, plain and simple.

Reminds me of a story I heard in church about the men with talents. Each was given talent (or money) according to his

skills. And each worked to receive a return on that initial gift. Every one, that is, except for the one who buried his one talent. When they had to account for their gifts, the man with the lone talent had that single gift taken away from him because he refuse to use it.

Like Erma, I want no leftovers when the man above takes stock. What’s in your pocket?


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