The Box (August 1996)
We use an analogy to demonstrate the strange mixture of desperation and comfort with which we cling to identity and to comfort in our lives and allude to the questionable nature of the value we bestow upon them .
You have this box. You're not quite sure where or how you acquired it, it seems as though you've always had it. It is a very precious box, extremely so. It's a box that has the genuine look and feel of solid gold. It sparkles, its shines. Such is its value that the mere fact that you hold it in your hands calms and reassures. The promise of what is inside this box cannot be described in words for its pricelessness can only be demonstrated by the lengths you go to keep the box firmly in your grasp.
This is not a box that can be placed in a safe to ensure your access to its preciousness, such foolishness would not be tolerated. For in letting the box slip from your hands could mean the loss of it forever, no such risk must be taken. However, in keeping hold of this box executing other tasks becomes impossible, for while you are holding the box, your hands become useless for anything else, so you have been happy to reach a suitable compromise. The box can be firmly tucked under one arm while the other hand can perform a variety of tasks - admittedly somewhat restrictive, but nevertheless a small price to pay for being able to retain such a valuable possession. But then realistically, what can be done with two hands that cannot be satisfactorily achieved with one? And so you find a way to live life, holding the box in one arm and achieving with the other.
Now, it has been said that even if you are able to live satisfactorily keeping hold of the box, life will never be quite as full or as rich as it could be if your hands were free. And to some extent this makes sense, but you've never noticed a lack as such, in what you are able to do and therefore any restriction is academic. In addition to this, you need this box, it cannot be done without. You have become reliant on its value in your life, to cast it aside would be stupidity itself, its presence has a steadying force, you have adjusted everything to accommodate the box, chaos could only prevail in its absence.
For all of its value however, you have never really examined the box closely, there is no need, its value is recognized, it is implied. Yet you have failed to see that its value is not found in its golden exterior, for the gold is imitation. In fact, the more closely you examine the box, the more you can see that the priceless jewels are colored glass and that the solid silver handles are artificial, there is paint flaking around the edges of the lock and the glue is peeling away from its base. If you were to be curious or inquiring, you would discover that the real value of the box is not in the experience of the box itself, but in the having of it and in knowing that it is always there. And because of this, you continue to hold it closely to your chest and guard it fiercely from all that may try to prize it from your grasp and try to tempt you into other ways.
If you could be encouraged to open the box, what, do you think you could expect to find?
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