So I’ve been thinking about boxes lately. You see, both my father and my wife’s father passed away this summer. My father was cremated and his remains placed in a box and my father-in-law was buried in a traditional coffin. And there are other boxes that seem to define our lives. It may be cliché, but when we leave a job we typically cart our belongings out the door in a cardboard box. And we usually store our excess stuff at home in more boxes.
If you think about it, babies are placed in a type of box called cribs and our homes and autos are other types of boxes so it could be said that we inhabit one type of box or another during our lives all the way from the cradle to the grave. So what is it about boxes that make them so ubiquitous in our lives? The dictionary defines a box as a container used for storage that has sides and sometimes a lid. I think boxes are such a part of our lives because they are so useful as containers, both of stuff and the stuff of dreams.
We often talk about thinking “outside the box” and not wanting to feel “boxed in” but boxes represent built-in boundaries that are not necessarily bad. When my wife and I began our minimalist journey we chose to limit our stuff to a manageable number of portable boxes (and bags, but that is another post), which for us was half a dozen stackable plastic bins. And we each possess a couple of what we call memory boxes that contain precious family photos and other memorabilia. So boxes are not at all bad.
Boxes carry us from life to death and our stuff along with us, but it is important to remember that we cannot tote our stuff with us into the afterlife. Try as we might, even if we place valuables in our crypts the baubles will not accompany us into eternity. So it is vital that we place our limited attention where it truly deserves to reside and that is on each other and our invaluable relationships. It is one thing to gather and commemorate the lives of loved ones but much more pressing to celebrate and love one another here.