Who’s tired of hearing, “Think Outside the Box?” I am. It’s become rather cliche and has little meaning today. I mean, what box?
Instead of trying to think outside the box, I suggest you crawl inside the box and explore what came in it – the very way you did all those years ago when you were little. How awesome were empty boxes to us, then, when we were children?
It didn’t matter what was in the box, it only mattered that there was a box, and…its depths needed exploring!
Let me share the wonderful things I found inside a box that was recently delivered to my house…
The box, by the way, came in a delivery truck. That in itself is wondrous. Delivery trucks provide a simple distraction and one begins to feel a tingle of excitement when it stops in front of your house. My delivery truck makes a ear-piercing, squeaky noise, telling me it’s here. I admit I go to the window with great anticipation!
It was a huge box. It could have fit an old-fashioned typewriter, that’s how huge it was.
I tore it open, flipped the enormous flaps aside, and delved in. The packing material wasn’t the usual foam peanuts. Instead, the box was overflowing with paper. I held the pieces of paper in my hands for a minute, then carefully divided the crisp, white pieces until I was surrounded by a lot of tiny white slivers with faded words on them. For a few minutes, I tried to imagine what it all was before it got shredded.
Was it a 20-page case study about SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? Was it a chapter from a literary novel? Was it part of a newspaper? A magazine?
After careful review, I came to the decision that it was a few chapters from book about early America – stories from the good old days. Then, I began thinking about how those stories relate to me, today.
Those pieces of parchment covered with letters and words, disconnected from one another, invited me me to explore the story within them. I began to hear the story, spoken in my head; the story of a shy little girl who was afraid of crowds, who loved animals, and who didn’t like to share with her younger brother. Somewhere in the text, the story of how she did not appreciate her younger sister, was revealed. Their fights and angry words were diminished by the tiny text, but they were there, nonetheless. And, in the shadows, there was a ribbon – faded in color, too dim to make out, wrapped around a parcel of letters. Letters I wrote to myself, in the day. About…what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Digging further inside the box, I uncovered memories long forgotten. Long ago moments of my childhood burst forth on my retinas – images of the beach on Sunday afternoons; ice cream on hot August evenings; my first dog, my first cat, my love of long walks in bare feet. I saw myself at the dining room table, writing my first novel, when I was in seventh grade. What ever happened to that 300 page story? I wonder. It reminded me that being devoted to story-telling had gotten me in trouble with my teacher when I was in second grade. All because I was supposed to be doing math or something else, other than drawing pictures and writing stories!
Luckily, my mother appreciated my ‘talent’ and allowed me to exercise it at will – regardless of how my teachers felt. Surely, that is why I kept writing. Surely, that is why I am here, today, writing this.
Inside my box, I found yesterday, a shadow of a memory that was merely a prologue to tomorrow.
Buried almost out of sight, beneath mounds of clutter, silent conversations long forgotten, I found little bits of tomorrow scattered here and there. As I pulled the wrinkled bits of paper out, I squinted my eyes and tried to see spring and summer of 2017- I know it lurks there somewhere – but my eyes could not find a marker. The only thing visible were blurry images of people, pets, and balloons. The people are familiar, but not sharp enough to identify. The pets are all precious and represent every dog or cat I’ve ever known, I think. The balloons are big and full of hot air, with brave souls inside, full of good cheer. They fly high in a cloudless sky, over white-tipped mountains, in the distance.
I plan on watching the hot air balloons, as they fly high and carefree. I plan on using the contents of my box to weave a never-ending story – full of shining hope, sincere happiness, riotous color, wild laughter, and crazy friends who run barefoot on the sand, with me.
My story won’t be written in a day. So, I have to put the box away now and then. But, it will always be close by – the better to bury myself in it now and then, to release the joy I know is mine, in 2016.
What will you do with the contents inside your box?