Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Box

About a year ago I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer expect myself to be in two places at once. Perhaps your calendar looks as mine once did, with three simultaneous items listed in the same time slot. I used to have lofty goals of concurrent dental appointments, phone conferences, and yoga classes, and it will not surprise you to learn that I never managed to juggle those particular tasks at once.

Last week, my husband spent four days Communing In the Woods and left me in the big ol' house with my big ol' self. This is the first time in my (new) life that he has been gone and I have not had a fully jam packed schedule.

To be fair, I did try to fill my schedule. I scheduled roughly six hours of work each of the first three days, and four hours of work on the fourth day. I made some rather flailing attempts at filling my social calendar, but was luckily unable to schedule each blessed minute. And the strangest thing happened.

In a day filled with emptiness, I managed to stay away from the computer and the TV. I didn't even crack a book. Instead, I pulled up my boots and started digging.

For the last few years, I've let some things pile up. Like clothes. Paid utility bills. Free song downloads from Starbucks and a truly unreasonable amount of return address labels. In the fray that was my former life, I became well versed at shoving. Do you shove things? I think about the old infomercials about kitchen appliances that you "press one button and walk away" and return to a full turkey dinner, or smoothies and salsa, or whatever. These appliances never worked as they were supposed to (because you had to actually buy a turkey, or freeze fruit, or otherwise obtain odd ingredients and figure out how to set the machine). Turns out when you shove clothes and bills (and possibly an answering machine, music stand, ones mortgage closing documents, assorted cords and a box of oatmeal) into a box, they don't magically turn into a turkey dinner, nor do they vanish or magically become something useful. Each year I have addressed one particular box (some of the contents may be listed above) by simply placing the Christmas ornament box in front of/beside it.

I'm not writing to tell you that the box is empty. It is not. It still has the items listed above, plus a heaping helping of guilt (four years worth, to be precise). The reason I'm writing to you, is to tell you that I intend not to open it. This past weekend, I learned that I'm quite effective at cleaning around it. And so in this way it has become my cleaning altar. A shrine to the imperfection in myself and in my life. And a monument to the progress that is happening around it.

Tomorrow reminds me of this box. For four years we have waited for an extra day, and now we have it. Don't worry about squeezing the most out of every extra precious minute. Instead, consider this day a shrine. A monument to the life around it.

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