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Purse Strings

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

The Tassel Wristlet, handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia for the Riverside based Abeba Collection.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Last week as we circled our bowls in artistic contemplation, you might have noticed an unusual number of puns sprinkled atop those creative suggestions I provided. If you found yourself groaning over the wordplay, you can thank my longstanding admiration for the whimsical wit of Shel Silverstein. His poetry has been part of my night-time reading rituals for nearly a decade thanks to my nine year old daughter. With his clever sketches and playful turns of phrase, Silverstein remains a beacon of light and laughter, reflecting humor and love when facing life’s quirks and obstacles. 

This week, we turn our attention to an item that's a constant companion at our hip: the wallet. Much like Silverstein's poetry, wallets hold more than what meets the eye—beyond their leather folds and zipped compartments lie stories, memories, and little slices of our identity. 

From the minimalist designs that speak to the modern aesthete, to the well-worn, overstuffed hand me down bursting with life's little necessities, wallets are intimate archives of our preferences and the essentials for our daily ventures. 

Ready to harness that “power of the purse?” Let's unshoulder, unzip, and unfold the creative potential of wallets, exploring not just their form and function but also the stories they carry and the values they safeguard. If your wallet uses VELCRO, here’s an entire other rabbit hole you can jump down. When you’re back, give one of these a crack:

  1. Credit Card Collage: Empty your wallet! Then calmly use this assortment of cards, receipts, photos, and mementos to create a collage. This visual assembly can serve as a snapshot of your current life, interests, and obsessions.
  2. DIY Wallet: Fashion a wallet using found or recycled materials. This could be fabric scraps, old clothing, or unconventional materials like duct tape or Tyvek envelopes. Consider the functionality but also the opportunity to infuse personal style and environmental consciousness into this handy accessory.
  3. Defund Yourself: Imagine a day without wallets. Or try it literally for one outing. I don’t have to try; it’s automatic for me! How does it affect your choices and interactions? What creative solutions do you find for situations that typically require something from your wallet?
  4. Wallet Watching: Observe how people interact with their wallets in public spaces. Notice the variety of wallets and the gestures people use. What body parts get used to explain, “I’ve left my wallet in the car” at self-checkout?
  5. Time Travel: Consider your wallet as a time capsule. Write a letter to your future self, explaining the significance of each item in your wallet. Store that note somewhere safe, like a wallet.

Your wallet, often tucked away in pockets or bags, is a small yet profound repository of our identity, responsibilities, and our creative sparks. As we explore these exercises, let's appreciate the wallet's role not just in our financial transactions but as a keeper of personal narratives and a mirror reflecting our values and connections. 

I hope this week's creative nudge inspires you to see something special tucked inside all those ways to pay. We are all interesting and worthy people with something to contribute. These several minutes of creative play will enrich your life, albeit briefly. May the effort reveal new ideas to express your unique story in a variety of ways across all of your livelong days.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.