Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.*
Anyone who has ever moved can appreciate the box. Flat when it comes to your house, with a few quick actions you have a cardboard cube, empty and ready to hold your precious possessions. Books in one box, china in another, household effects in a third. The packing goes on, the labeling continues until you fall exhausted on the floor, all your earthly goods neatly reduced to numbered boxes showing neither passions nor personality.
Boxes are great when used as containers for material things, but like all my earthly goods being reduced to a tidy little box that tells the observer almost nothing about my life, so it is when people put me in a box, or when I reciprocate and enclose them in an empty cardboard cube, shut and labeled. It’s so easy to take one look, or hear one opinion, and make an assumption, packaging them tidily away. The labels we have decided will work for that particular person have been written with an invisible sharpie, not able to be erased, minimizing them because that way they are far easier to deal with.
We are all far more than we appear and so much more complex than we allow. We have been fragmented into political parties, right wings and left, vegans and meat eaters, environmentalists and denialers, pro’s and cons. We have become less and less willing to break down the boxes and allow the contents to be displayed in all it’s glory and tatter. Because to unpack a box takes a lot of work and we no longer have the energy. We have become little boxes made of ticky-tacky but to paraphrase the words of a great poet -“Something there is that doesn’t love a box“.
If I’m willing to unpack and go through the contents, I am inevitably surprised at what I find. True – there will always be contents that I like more than others and some boxes I will leave until the end to unpack, but just letting a box sit there, it’s label glaring out from layers of dust becomes annoying and takes up way more space than unpacking the goods. Sooner or later I have to decide: Am I going to throw the box away, unwilling to do the work of unpacking or am I going to unpack it and just maybe find a treasure. Something there is that doesn’t love a box – so as hard as it is, I’ll try to unpack.
*Lyrics from Malvina Reynolds copyright 1962
3 thoughts on “Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Box”
I actually just bought a house and am going through boxes and boxes, years and years of stuff… Some long forgotten, some boxes of newer things. It is such a great surprise opening the boxes that were packed after my last move from completing my master’s and put in my parents basement for storage until I got my own place. Some boxes contain boxes… my most recent boxing was from my last relationship. Everything fit nicely into this little pink box. Why do I stuff these memories into a box, I guess in hopes to box them up and out of my mind. I don’t really think it works, but it is a nice place for the mementos from a relationship lost.
Love this comment – love the picture of boxes inside of boxes. I’ve moved alot as well and find the whole process a mixture of sadness, nostalgia, joy, anticipation and frustration all bottled in one. Good luck with unpacking and thanks so much for reading!