The Box, or Why I Keep a Lid on It.

Keep a lid on it.

That’s how we deal with the boxes in our life. And whoo boy, do we know boxes at our house! Honey’s job causes us to move every two to three years. We love it this way, actually, but it does make for more than a passing acquaintance with boxes.

Moving Day is always preceded by Pack-out Day, or Days. By the time the movers arrive, we have sorted through our belongings, giving away items we no longer use, clothes the kiddos have outgrown, and anything we would rather not store while we head overseas. We separate items that we want to arrive sooner: kitchen utensils, bedding, a few toys, the majority of our clothes, and the computer; we send those out in one shipment. The larger shipment contains everything else: books, family photos and other things to hang on the walls, and always a bookcase or two. (Sure, we may be moving into a furnished house, but I guarantee you there won’t be sufficient book space!) 

Movers come in and pack everything we love into boxes. Over a hundred boxes follow us around the world, or guard our “treasures” in storage while we are gone.

As you can imagine, not everything gets unpacked in all these moves. For example, the 20 x 24 framed picture of my grandfather as a pastor, or the equally large framed picture of my dad on his rocking horse, age 2, stay tucked away in their boxes. As wonderful as these pictures are, they don’t get unpacked and hung every time.

These are “someday” possessions. I can envision enough space in a home of our own someday to hang many old family pictures on a wall that reaches to a very high ceiling. Someday I will hang them. 

For now, I keep a tight lid on these possessions, and some others. As best I can, I will protect them from damage, dust, or decay. I cannot save everything, but the things I wish to preserve, I make sure the box has a well-fitting lid.

Similarly, in my life, there are treasures I hold closely. Some of my treasures are out in the open: my Honey, the kiddos, my feelings and ideas that I share with you here. They are dear to me. I have other treasures, though, that for now, I need to keep to myself.

Sometimes I ask myself about my motivation. Why don’t I want to share some of these things? They seem no more deeply personal than other things I have written about. What makes these thoughts, these ideas, ones that I put in a well-closed box? Why do I pack them away and say, “Keep a lid on it!”? 

Keeping a lid on it can carry a negative connotation. It can indicate an enforced silence, or an unwillingness to look too closely at problems. Stuff that I don’t want known about me, or stuff that I don’t want to solve, because solving it sounds so hard.

None of this sounds good or wholesome or healthy, I know. In darker moments, I wrestle with myself, arguing about whether I myself am practicing denial and repression… or protection and preservation. Two sides of the same coin.

But I’ve explained why I leave my physical belongings in boxes, and now you may have formed your own opinion about why I keep some emotional items packed up.

Here’s mine, though: sometimes things are too dear to share with everyone. I don’t want other fingerprints on my most tender of moments with Blossom, or a guest putting a chip in the ceramic edge of a story about Einstein. Worn away edges on an antic of Ladybug’s? Or even a fresh coat of paint on our relationship with Cartwheel? No, thank you.

And even the things that are hard, that make me sorrowful or angry, even some of those are protected entities.

In my box of ideas, there are some “someday” topics. And I can envision writing them. Yes, indeed, when the time is right.

For now, pass me the clear packing tape. I’m putting a lid on it. 

Linking up today with Amber Haines and other writing friends as we write about Concrete Words.

2 thoughts on “The Box, or Why I Keep a Lid on It.

  1. I love your description of packing, the someday possessions. And I am SO totally with you on the ‘someday’ topics. You totally spoke my thoughts on this too! It’s almost a relief to have them in writing. The ‘should I?’ ‘Why don’t I share these things?’ It’s a discernment thing, for sure. Hiding away doesn’t always mean shamed, it can mean treasured. Not everything needs to be shared, some things can just be held and hugged. Thanks for this reminder.

    I love that you joined in with Amber this week!

    • Tanya, this is very much my introversion coming into play. Once I share it, it’s out there. I measure it by 2 standards: do I mind if strangers know this, and is this really my story to tell? (i.e., will it infringe on someone else’s privacy?) Thanks for your kind words. You warm my heart!

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