Think outside the boxes

When Boxing Day started last week; I wasn’t ready for it. I’m not talking about the sales of Christmas leftover stock that happens on the 26th of December, I’m referring to my move to a new house. Boxing day started in the middle of December and is still ongoing for me.

I have done nothing but pack boxes and unpack boxes for a couple of weeks, with no end in sight. I can’t believe how much stuff I have acquired, and how little of it I actually need. (This may or may not be related to a number of years of bargain shopping on Boxing Day).

Surrounded by cardboard boxes emulating the leaning tower of Pisa all over our house, I find myself reflecting on these boxes and how difficult it is to throw out or gift away their contents.

I have in front of me at least half a dozen boxes that moved with me from Ottawa over seven years ago to the Sault. Those boxes, I had hoped to sort and/or cull before now. Those same boxes travelled with me from my first house in the Sault to my next house, and now have been moved again with me to my new, and hopefully my last, house.

I’m at odds with my emotions. I travelled through Asia for five months with only a backpack, and I did it again two years later in South America, but now I am surrounded by many metric cubes of stuff in boxes that I clearly don’t need to survive.

Isn’t there some rule that if you don’t use something for one year — let alone seven, that you should get rid of it?

There’s no time to go through the old boxes: there’s only time to buy new boxes it seems. So new boxes get placed on top of older boxes, and the older boxes just get older.

The last box didn’t make us happy for long enough, so we continue to yearn for new stuff in new boxes. Perhaps that new stuff will be the stuff that makes everything right in our world; that completes us. And really, a box does eventually complete us.

We all “cradle to grave”– in boxes. We start out sleeping most of the day and night in a box-like structure called a crib or bassinet. We end our worldly existence with the long sleep in a pine box (or in a mahogany box if you are really concerned about boxes). In between that first and last box, our worlds seem to revolve around pining for stuff in boxes (pun intended).

What is it that we want so badly in those boxed? The men want their toys (usually with motors) that come in very big boxes. Girls, on the other hand, wait for one little velvet box, with something sparkly in it. We yearn for these things, yet once we get them, we’re on to thinking about the next thing in a box that we want.

We go to work to get money to live in bigger boxes and drive cooler boxes. When we leave our work box (read cubicle or office), we go home and live in our house box – so enclosed and isolated that we barely know our neighbours anymore.

Within our homes we spend hours on end sitting in front of a box that is our source or entertainment and “information.” That box tells us that we’ll be happier and more fulfilled if we buy more stuff in more boxes. We’re entitled to it; we deserve it: or so we think that’s what the box is saying to us.

Let’s face it, the great majority of our festivities and holidays revolve around exchanging boxes to show love, respect, or out of tradition. Frankly, I feel boxed in by the need for all of these new boxes. After all, more stuff won’t fit into that final box we’re headed towards.

Can’t we think outside the box?

What if we changed our perceptions and learned to be happier with what we already have? What if we stopped giving gifts at every occasion and focused on connecting with people instead of collecting more boxes?

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