An Empty Box

When I was in Junior High School, I had my share of what I would call Pathetic Teachers.  These were the noble ones who wanted to get inside our sniveling little heads and then would want us to look at what they pulled out.  And we, of course, from the lofty pedestals of 15-year old superiority, mocked their terrible sincerity.

There was one teacher – she taught English and thoughtfulness, I think – who gave us an assignment that I remember to this day.

We were to bring to class an Object.  That Object would be a representation of ourselves, a metaphor to place inside an unmarked box.  We would turn in that box and in turn each Object would be help up for discussion, to see if we could identify the owner.  We had such subtle reasoning, and all.

I had brought a piece of glass – unsentimentally found in the dirt perhaps, or on the floor of the bus.  All I know was that my effort was minimal.  I didn't think I was transparent, or sharp, or meant to be handled with care.  I just knew that it would excite comment.

I don't remember the dialogue that followed.  But I had hoodwinked my poor, earnest teacher quite successfully.

I have recently begun to wonder what I would put in that box now.

Something, perhaps, to show that I would leave a good-looking corpse:

A shell from the beach:  full of sand, still wet from the ocean, to show how I would never be far from my parents:

A scrap of lace – a useless decoration:

Or perhaps I would leave the box empty.  Not as a protest against a foolish chore, but as an explanation:  that no one is so simple that their definition could reside within a single enclosure; that their complexity lasts for miles…well beyond a box's mere barriers.

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14 responses to “An Empty Box

  1. This reminded me of 'Auguries of Innocence' – To see a world in a grain of sand … etc.
    It's a strange question to ask – you can't give it too much thought before you realise that it's quite daft. Best to take it at the level of a 'Blind Date' question, "Contestant number 3, if you were to describe yourself as an animal, what would it be and why?" – cue hilarious responses about donkeys, stallions and dragons.

  2. an interesting exercise and concept to contemplate indeed. all, yours, have their rhyme and reason. reckon the final one is tough to top.

  3. I would fill the box all on my lonesome – as I go through life the many representations of me grow and grow as I grow and grow.

  4. Maybe you are more like the glass than you know. It could be the ability to cut into things and see them well, thoughts refracting into rainbows once you brush the dirt off…

  5. I love the visual of this box with all of your things in it, but the last one is perfection. Nobody can be summed up in one little object, it would only show one small facet of who we are.What a great thing to ponder today, i will see myself in everything today. Thank you!

  6. Lovely, I would guess the sea shell. Maybe close to home in spirit always, true to your roots. Just my guess. Loved the glass idea too actually. After I read the whole post I thought of sea glass…..

  7. If only thoughtfulness could be taught.

  8. I liked this so much the first time, I stopped in for a second. Can't explain why but each time I found myself wondering at the end what O.J. Simpson would set in the box.

  9. Jando – I really think we were too teen-agery to appreciate satire. We felt that the easiest way out of a bad situation was to take it seriously: sloppily, but seriously.
    Wbaby – I just didn't have the wit to realize that an answer that stood up to the teacher was just as acceptable as one that fell in line with the teacher.
    Riss – Thank you baby!
    FDancer – Perhaps that is the best way; so no aspect of your life will ever be forgotten.
    Doug – Some sort of silica premonition, you mean? At the time – really – I just wanted the attention!
    Lavender – Excellent. I hope I provided some food for thought!
    Ellie – I do feel a closeness to the sea. When did it start? I wish I knew, because it wasn't always that way.
    Purplesque – Not taught, dear Purple, only encouraged. (I suppose 'courage' was meanted to be included in that word?)
    Wbaby – You are always welcome at the Cafe! As for your question…that will take some consideration…
    Suga' – Thank you my dear!

  10. unrelated to your post: had you on my brain for the last few days. nice to see you around

  11. I think your original choice has a lot going for it. Clear.Beautiful even onlywhen a broken fragment of its original whole.In fact, likely more beautiful as a mysterious shard than as its merely utilitarian source.Sharp, able to cut the careless, but that same dangerous edge is what produces the sparkle.Able to catch the eye, even when left on the ground.Cool.

  12. I love the idea of the piece of glass! I would probably put a rock in my box.

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