Sunday, December 6, 2015

Boxes

Once upon a time, like yesterday, there was a woman. 
A fine woman. Intelligent, strong, thoughtful. Busy.

She was a very, very busy woman and as such, she accumulated a lot of stuff. 

Big stuff, little stuff, important stuff, annoying stuff, happy stuff... lots and lots of stuff. Being a fine woman, an organized woman, she began sorting her stuff and putting it all in boxes.

And she sorted every box, and carefully labeled every box. Some were marked "urgent", some "not-so-urgent", some had a big sticker that said "to be dealt with"... but there was one box, one very special box, that she labeled "My Most Precious Thing". And inside that box was just that... the one thing she held most dear to her heart, one thing above all others.
It was a beautiful box that she put her Most Precious Thing inside. No ordinary brown box would do. It was a fancy box, covered in sparkles and ribbons and brightly colored bows. No one seeing that box could mistake it for anything other than what it was - her very most prized thing. Her Most Precious Thing.

She put the box in a place of honor. Someplace where she could always see it, where she would always know it was there. 
And then she set about dealing with her other boxes. So, so many boxes! She dealt with the urgent ones, going through their contents, sometimes sorting them into other smaller boxes, sometimes solving the puzzles the boxes held and discarding them before moving to the next box. Sometimes she'd have to deal with what she could, then put things back inside their boxes. Some stayed labeled "urgent", some got relabeled "to be dealt with" or "not-so-urgent". 

This took a lot of time, especially since there were always new boxes arriving. They, too, had to be labeled and sorted and dealt with. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months... months to years. Boxes, boxes everywhere. She was up to her ears in boxes. They filled her house. The porch. Her attic, her basement - all full of boxes.

And her special box - her most special box - sat there, unopened. The box containing her Most Precious Thing. She knew she needed to check on the contents of that box. What was inside needed special care, after all. It needed nurturing, needed to be nourished and reassured that it was indeed her Most Precious Thing. 
She knew this, but there were so many other boxes - so many urgent boxes. And she could see her special box, sitting there, unopened, and she knew it was fine. Oh, yes, she had her eye on the sparkly box, but she just couldn't stop taking care of all those other boxes, especially since she could see it right there and knew her special box with her Most Precious Thing was okay. 

Wasn't it? It was still sparkly and pretty, the ribbons and bows were still vibrant and beautiful and she knew the box was protecting and shielding her Most Precious Thing. 
So she carried on, opening and sorting and dealing and reboxing and relabeling all her stuff. She accepted delivery of new boxes and made room for them.

Years passed, and one day she found herself with a tiny window of time. A few quiet moments with no new deliveries and all her other boxes stacked properly, though teetering, for just the briefest moment of time and she decided to take her special box off the shelf, open it up and check on her Most Precious Thing. 
That's very odd, she thought as she lifted the box into her lap. It doesn't weigh as much as I remember.

She realized that though the box looked just fine from the front, the view that she saw every day, the view that all her visitors saw, it had begun to disintegrate. She, rather reluctantly if truth be told, pried the lid from her special box and gasped.

Some of her Most Precious Thing was gone. It had spoiled... gone rancid, for the most part. Not all of it, but a damn good chunk of it had festered with neglect and simple decayed. 
She blinked a few times. She felt certain her Most Precious Thing could be made whole again with some TLC. She'd had it for so long... she was so comfortable knowing it was there, safe, in its special box. She'd grown so confident in its presence, so completely assured that nothing could ever happen to her Most Precious Thing.

She had taken it for granted. 

She'd simply assumed her Most Precious Thing was safe inside its special box. It showed no outward signs that it was rotting away. She couldn't be expected to see through the sides of the special box, and her Most Precious Thing certainly hadn't made its difficulties known to her. It hadn't peeked its head outside the box and said "Hey, I need to be tended, too. I need to be dealt with and sorted!" 
How could she be expected to know her Most Precious Thing was falling apart? 

She got angry. She shoved the lid back on the special box and pushed it back in with the stacks and stacks of other boxes. After all, more boxes were being delivered now. And they were marked "urgent"!

Her Most Precious Thing should be able to take care of itself. It had years to get used to it. It had gotten too big for its special box, she decided. Thought it deserved something better than the wonderful special box she had made for it. How ungrateful! How very selfish of her Most Precious Thing to not appreciate its beautiful box!

Her Most Precious Thing had always been there for her. Stalwart and strong and faithful to her. How dare it go and get all needy on her?
There was something else she didn't realize, though. Her Most Precious Thing was actually pretty damn happy in its box. It was comfortable in its special box - no, more than comfortable. It was content and it was at home in its special box. Oh, and this Most Precious Thing loved this woman. This very busy, very intelligent, very wonderful woman who tended so many boxes - because her Most Precious Thing understood. If she didn't tend to those boxes, those urgent boxes, who would? And they did have to be tended. Her Most Precious Thing was proud of the woman. It was honored to be in her special box and honored to be her Most Precious Thing. If truth be told, there was nowhere her Most Precious Thing would rather be than in her special, sparkly box. 
It just needed a little something more than she was able to provide, what with all those other boxes that needed her attention. Those parts that had disintegrated... well, they weren't actually gone. They'd left the special box for a bit, yes. It didn't intended to, but the box was falling apart and it spilled out a little bit. This little bit of Most Precious Thing found itself floating in the air, in the ether, for the first time in many, many years. And in the blink of an eye, it found itself in another box, one without a lid. It could settle into this box and make itself comfy for a little while before floating back home to its own special box. And the owner of this borrowed box was a woman who also had some other boxes, but not quite so many, and she made this little open box her own very special box for the time this little wayward bit of Most Precious Thing was inside it. 

This other box-tender watered and pruned and dusted off this tiny part of this Most Precious Thing. She knew it wasn't hers... a Most Precious Thing can only truly belong to one person, as a whole. There were rules. There were truths. Incontrovertible truths, written not in stone, but in wurtzite boron nitride! But still, she loved this small piece of Most Precious Thing. She missed it terribly when it went back into its special box, with the sparkles and ribbons and bows. 
She understood that it had to, but it saddened her so. Not just that this little piece was gone from her boxes, but because she could see that it was still starving, because the woman had slammed the lid down on it again, enshrouding it in darkness once again. The woman was still angry, and her Most Precious Thing settled into its special box, frayed and broken and decaying, to wait once more. 

Nothing was happy now. Not the woman, not the other box-tender, and certainly not the Most Precious Thing. 
But there were boxes to be opened. The woman, through gritted teeth because she was still angry, tossed vague assurances at the sparkly box, with its ribbons and bows, that it would be dealt with and sorted, eventually. 

But there were boxes to be opened.

And life went on. 

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