Unpacking Your Box
Updated: Jun 14
I don't know of many people who like to move. Regardless of the destination, the task of packing and unpacking all that you own is just not fun. It is endless hours of sorting and deciding what stays, what goes, or what you are packing knowing the box won't even get opened on the other end of the move.
I remember all too well this process when we relocated from Virginia to California several years ago. We had less than a month to pack up our 3-story home, toddlers and all, for the largest transition of our life. We were told the truck was going to be weighed - the less we packed, the less we would be charged. With that in mind we did a good amount of purging, but much of what I thought I would be willing to say goodbye to ended up hastily tossed into boxes to deal with on the other end.
Once we started the process of unpacking, there were just some boxes I couldn't unpack. It was bringing up too many emotions about leaving our home. I was sad. I was angry. I was alone. It was too hard to decide what to do with the items that were now removed from their old space. For every box I opened and emptied in no time, there was one that I just couldn't tackle. I'd see what it contained and quickly shove it back in the corner for another day. And it would just sit there in the corner - mocking me. Daring me to ignore it. That box of my stuff was waiting for me to do something useful with it. To make a decision. To go ahead and unpack it. This process wasn't pretty.
I think moving boxes and the process of unpacking is a seriously good analogy for our lives. The box becomes a representation of all of us - our experiences, our talents, our failures, and our pain. Our box contains the good, the bad, and the ugly. It holds all that we have enjoyed and all that we wish we could forget. That box can be pretty heavy. So what if we could start treating our own personal box of life like we do our moving boxes, and learn to carefully pack and unpack it as we carry it through life?
Everyone's box is unique, but we all have one. It is probably pretty heavy. How often do we hear talk of "the burdens that one must carry?" Burdens are current circumstances that are difficult to swallow, or a past event that has altered the course of your life. Those burdens make up the weight in our boxes. It literally weighs on us emotionally and physically, slowing us down when a potential opportunity comes around. More likely, we are so busy bearing that past weight that we don't even see the opportunity. And then we have the fear and pain that we have experienced, too. That's more weight. We know we are carrying that around with us because it jumps up and scares us all over again when something similar occurs present day. What if we could unpack those burdens? Evaluate them and the emotions they evoke, one at a time? Learn from them or view them in a new light? Reduce their power over us? We can.
Our box holds a whole lot of the bittersweet. I am thinking about our dearest memories. Our time with loved ones who have passed. Our moments in the sun that make us smile when we remember them. I don't want those things buried in the bottom, crushed by the weight of less happy events. I want to be able to revisit them without regret. We should find a way to carefully tuck those away so they are never at risk of being forgotten. Our life is full of wonderful things that need our attention in order to not get lost in the shuffle that is life. What if we could find a way to showcase the good in our lives? Emphasize the powerful? HIghlight the greatest hits to remember whenever we need a boost? We can.
And don't forget the bubble wrap. Aren't there things in our lives that deserve extra special care when being stored for later? I'm thinking of the experiences yet to come. Our box is holding our dreams and our hopes for the future. It holds our wishes for either a repeat of events, or a necessary change. These may not need to be displayed for all to see but they need our vigilant protection because if we lose these, our lives are markedly less fulfilling. Dreams power our days. And no dream is too small. What if we could find a way to open that box and be constantly reminded of our dreams and how important they are to us? To re-visit them and re-tool them periodically to encourage success in achieving them? We can do that, too.
You see, once we unpack a box we have the opportunity to explore its contents. We can decide what we love and want to proudly display. We can say goodbye to what is old and no longer needed. We can acknowledge what doesn't necessarily serve us well and might need a replacement. That exploration of our box, and our lives, is what taking responsibility for ourselves is all about. We are the only ones who can. It is our box. Our stuff to revisit. Our stuff to carry. Our stuff to cherish. Our stuff to purge because we know it holds us back. Our stuff to rise above so we can start fresh on the other side.
Unpack your box. See what you find. Decide what you want to continue to carry. Ditch what is holding you back. Put on vivid display all that you love and all that you are planning for. Stop pushing it to the corner. You don't even have to wait for a cross-country move to do it.