Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Small Tin Box (Week 5 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-week journey)

Within each human soul lays a tin box.

When it has been a very long day and there is still a lot of work to do - still dinner to cook and a stack of dishes in the sink -  this is when I hear a knocking on the hollow of the metal.  Even more intense, when I am in some state of exhaustion, I hear all the contents of this box rattling, shaking angrily against the sides.

What is this small box?  
It holds the taste and feel and sound of happiness - a happiness that becomes more difficult to experience the more life experience you have.
It sits in some quiet corner between our conscious and unconscious thought.  

What is in your box?
It could be a specific place or time.  It could be a room in a house you once lived in and loved or a day in your life when you were surrounded by the best friends you ever had - something that you are now separated from because of space or time.  

What is my box?
I have lived in and visited so many places in my childhood that this it is not one place, but a combination of many different places in one.  In this box, I can smell clean linen on a clothesline.  There is a back yard where a swimming pool scatters light in dancing designs, where I can feel completely removed from any problem or responsibility, where I'm running around letting my bare feet feel the softness of the ground. There are two tangible things that connect me to that place. A grassy backyard on a sunny day and homemade ice cream.  

We brought out the kid-sized pool from the garage and filled it up with the hose.  My daughter picked up hollow blocks full of water and poured them onto my arms, while my husband sat smiling at us in the shade.  I looked at just what angle the sun was in the sky, the way it reflected all the green leaves and I chose to just live in the moment, to just be present and, all at once, my own backyard became the tin box itself.  And I realized this:

There is a lie that shakes around inside my tin box - that some irretrievable time has gone, that I cannot experience the present in the same way because this moment does not bear the same weight that other time did.

The truth is that now, this present moment, bears the most weight of all.

We came in to eat dinner and have dessert.   Feeling that sun-drenched sleepiness on my skin, pouring in the vanilla, having the ice cream maker hum and swirl, having that familiar taste on my tongue seemed to momentarily calm some part of me that feels such a tired sorrow - a sorrow for all that I cannot have back, for all I cannot get back.  
If there was a joy you used to have as a very small child, before life got really crazy, then refuse to give up on ever getting that feeling back.  If some warm backyard holiday from long ago makes you think that you could only have happiness if you could just get back to that place or just get back to that time, then it is time to recreate it.

Here is what you need to know:  the lid of the box can be opened and new things can be placed inside.  

(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved


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