SummaryYou carry around too much stuff, or not enough? Charles Foyle explains the six essential items he carries in his pockets. Customizable for the individual.
Homeschoolers are usually pretty good about de-cluttering.
However, even the most diligent efforts usually overlook managing one’s pocket contents. I am no exception. My own pockets used to look like a combination of a moving van, antique store, office wastebasket, and Dad’s tool box, complete with authentic garnishing of Dad’s tools.
They bulged like squirrel cheeks with their full cargo of acorn caps and old paper towels. Finally, it got exasperating—at least, for Dad. So, what to do? I decided to organize their contents and limit what went in to a few useful items. You can customize the list, of course.
What works for me might be absolutely useless to someone else.
My six Manly Essentials are: a rosary, keys, knife, watch, pen, and a wallet.
Every Catholic should use a rosary, and it is a good idea to carry one on your person. Yes, they’re old-fashioned to the point of being medieval, but at Judgment nobody is going to be concerned with fashion. The Rosary is a sweet chain that binds us to the Heart of Mary.
There is no better place to be—Jesus honors His Father and His mother. Remember, piety is more than lace-edged holy cards and antique missals. It is the virtue that inspires people to use the sacramentals and practice devotion.
Piety, the virtue that makes our inner love of God visible, is a sure sign of real manliness.
Hence the rosary is the manliest of the essentials.
On my small key ring, I carry keys to the car, the house, and the door of my bedroom, as well as a Coghlan’s can opener. Car keys are practical even though I do not own the car.
We were ninety miles from the house when the dog pushed the electric locks in the truck, and this was before Dad carried a cellphone.
House keys are a no-brainer. Even though I never lock my room from the outside, the old-fashioned lock takes a flat key with no notches in it, so the key makes an excellent screwdriver.
The can opener is very useful for me, as I like hunting and camping. Keys might seem like a jingling mess, but they are irreplaceable when you need them.
No matter what you are doing, a pocketknife or a multi-tool will come in handy eventually. Keep yours sharp and clean, and pick one that fits your hand. A quality knife will be much safer than a poorly-made one.
I have used my pocketknives to fix church answering machines; get a rotary phone working; prepare game birds, squirrels, and deer; scale fish; and remove unsightly dead flowers from the altar at church.
Both of them are plain two-bladed “Trapper” models, with carbon steel. One is large and one is little. A side note to anyone looking for a new knife—find one that won’t fold up while you are using it.
I used to avoid watches on principle, as all I wanted to buy were dismally cheap and broke in a couple of weeks. When I finally decided to invest a bit of money in a decent watch, the sheer convenience of the proper time was amazing.
No more did I play the mountain man, squinting at the sun to judge the hour! Electric watches are the cheapest and most accurate. A new digital watch can offer many accessories. Some are even powered by kinetic energy or solar power. Quartz battery watches are very accurate and inexpensive.
The old-style mechanical watch is a whole new ball game, and I am not qualified to discuss them. However, I do carry a wind-up pocket watch. It was neither cheap nor waterproof, but it works extremely well and never needs batteries.
The main idea of carrying a watch, though, is not the motor but the time of day. Pick one that will match your lifestyle and that you can afford.
5. Pen or Pencil.
You might have a drawer full of them at the house, but unless you have one in your pocket, you are out of luck. Pens are just one thing that won’t ever go out of style. Even in the age of the cellphone, writing is a civilized and manly skill.
One day, I treated myself to a new fountain pen to carry as one of the Essentials. When choosing a pen, pick a good solid one that won’t smash or leak.
Capless pens aren’t always the best choice. If the point fails, the reservoir will go right into your shirt pocket.
Most homeschoolers have buckets of old pens around, so you probably have a fine selection to choose from right at the house.
My inner tightwad once rebelled at the idea of making a wallet part of my daily essentials. Why would anyone carry cash they don’t spend? Personal experience convinced me to carry one.
We were hunting one winter and drove to a general store for some bacon. I took a little prowl around the place and found a sickly-looking cardboard box full of phonograph records from the 1920s and ‘30s.
The ones that weren’t broken looked like a lot of fun, but then I remembered that my wallet was back at the cabin. I began to think a bit about carrying it. Fast forward to the day I took my driver’s license examination.
There were ten minutes left, I had to wash the car windows, and I discovered that my wallet, which held all my papers for registering, was missing. I raised some mild pandemonium in a general way, but, in true melodramatic form, it showed up just in the nick of time.
The moral of this story is: carry your wallet. Just carry it. You will be glad you did.
With organized pockets, I always know where something is. Now, instead of pulling out a pocket watch when I wanted a knife, or a rosary when I needed a pen, my pockets have “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
This scheme makes things much easier for me, and I am sure it will help you too.