In a bus packed with commuters, the conductor found an old and worn wallet on the floor. He picked it up to examine its contents. It had five hundred rupees and a picture of Krishna. There were no other cards or photos. The conductor shouted, “Has anyone lost his wallet?”
“I have,” replied an old man.
“Can you tell me what does it have to prove it’s yours?”
“I don’t remember the exact amount of money but it has a photo of my lord Krishna.”
“Hmm…anyone can have a picture of Krishna,” the conductor said skeptically, “can you tell me anything else?”
The old man chuckled before he spoke:
“My father gifted me this wallet when I began understanding the concept of keeping and saving money. It had a photograph of Krishna in it. He asked me to always do the right karma. I was a bit too young to worry about that though. I put a photograph of my parents on top of the picture of Krishna. I loved my parents more than anybody else in the world. But that feeling didn’t take long to change. Earlier my world revolved around them but now it was all about me. I felt they owed it to me to give what I thought I wanted. So as I grew older, I put my own photo on top of theirs. I thought I looked way better than them.
“Soon after graduating out of college, I fell in love with a girl. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I put her photo next to mine, completely hiding my parent’s picture underneath. Before long, I was married to her and she gave birth to a boy. I removed my parents’ photograph and put my son and my wife’s photo in my wallet. My wife and my son were my world. My day began and ended with my son, why, every moment of my life revolved around him. My parents passed away in due course.
“My son was growing up, he got educated, got a job, moved out, got married, got kids, got busy. A few years ago my wife passed, so I removed her picture from my wallet as well. Last year, I fell down from the stairs and I phoned my son and asked him to spend a few days with me. He told me to be strong. He did not invite me to his home and did not visit me saying he was extremely busy and stressed out with work and family. My heart, already wounded, shattered into a million pieces. I removed his picture from my wallet and underneath was the original photograph of Krishna. I had the greatest realization of my life. All relationships are transient, they are based on self-interest, they are temporary. People came and went but the presence of God remained constant in my life.”
The conductor immediately handed back the wallet without uttering another word.
The bus halted at its final stop and everyone got off. The conductor, a Christian, made quick steps to the nearest stationery and gifts outlet. “Do you have any picture of Christ? I need it for my wallet,” he said to the shopkeeper.
You need not wait for a jolt to understand the transient nature of this world. Such an understanding, in an empirical way, can be attained by deep contemplation too. Your wallet indicates your priorities in life. Often in the wake of ticking off things, people lose sight of the real stuff, they lose track of their own life.
On another note, it may sound strange but you can know a great deal about a person from their wallet alone. Some people’s purses are full of old receipts, business cards, expired loyalty cards and the rest of it. They often keep clutter in their mind too. If you have a receipt older than a year in your wallet, you probably have grudges older than a decade in your heart.
Examine your handbag or your wallet. Its looks on the outside are directly proportional to how much you take care of yourself and your needs, it shows how you want to be seen and perceived by others. Its contents show what you keep in your mind, they indicate what all you hold in your heart. Any photographs in it reflect your present priorities. Its overall feel, internal and external, shows your present and aggregate state of living.
Go on! get a new wallet if necessary. Treat yourself with care; you deserve it. Do it with compassion — towards yourself and others.