Less than 30 feet away from me, in my office down the hall, sits The Box.
It’s a large, rather non-descript cardboard box, maybe 8 cubic feet in volume. It has a lid: one that often bulges because it’s filled to the brim. From the outside, you wouldn’t be able to guess its contents.
I’m going to tell you a secret. The Box contains the paper equivalent of my life.
You see, The Box is where I stash virtually every single scrap of paper that crosses my path. Receipts. Bills that have been paid. Schoolwork the kids have brought home. Pictures. Pieces of mail I found either too valuable, too sentimental or too significant to just throw in the garbage.
You name it, it goes in The Box. In a nutshell, the box is where every piece of paper or flat material goes to live. I believe there’s also a small band of gypsies that have taken up residence in The Box as well. They live somewhere near the bottom.
This past week, I had to retrieve something from the bowels of The Box. And when I nearly drowned in a sea of paperwork, I realized what a colossal mess it was. So I started the slow, painstaking process of purging and organizing The Box. And it’s been hard. Because I hate throwing things away.
Some of the stuff has been easy to part with.
Like the electric bills from our first home. Electric bills that are 2 houses and 14 years in the past. Yeah. I’m guessing I don’t need those any more.
Or the manuals from appliances and electronics that have long since met their death.
Or the tax returns that are 20 years old.
But mixed in with all of the peripheral junk, I’ve discovered other stuff that is unbearably difficult to part ways with. Hidden gems that hold meaning only for me.
Like the receipt from when I bought my first power suit. The suit that was recently donated to Goodwill. I think I kept the suit for so long because I was holding out hope that, one day, I’d be a Size 1 again. Or that oversized shoulder pads would once again come back into vogue. Eventually, I bought a clue and realized that neither of these events would actually come to fruition. But, for some reason, I still had the receipt.
Or the back of an old piece of junk mail. I almost threw it away, until I turned it over, and saw the crayon marks with my daughter’s first attempts to write her name. To anyone else, it would be illegible chicken scratches… a captcha scribbled by a young child. But it means something to me.
Or one of the first paystubs I got from my first job out of college. Evidence that one can indeed subside solely on ramen noodles and beer.
Or the hospital bill we received after I gave birth to Chip. Proof that the best things in life are most definitely not free.
To an outsider, they might look like meaningless scraps of paper. But they are so much more than that to me. Those scraps of paper are evidence of memories, milestones and life events. And so I’ve been going through the contents of The Box one by one, because I don’t want to miss a single thing.
I’m purging bits of my life. One piece of paper at a time.
Is this a true story? You bet.
Is this a metaphor for my life right now? Absolutely.
I’ve been feeling lately like the box that is my life is overflowing. And I’ve been taking a hard look at how things like a full time job, a couple of side businesses, domestic drizzle and blogging all fit into the grand scheme of things. Now I just have to figure out how to organize, filter, and possibly purge some of it.
I’m still figuring it all out. Going through the contents of The Box can be a daunting task sometimes.