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Unpacking My Lunch Box

At an antique mall today, I noticed many lunchboxes that I coveted as a child. In my early elementary school days, my friends got to carry lunch boxes that featured pictures of the Peanuts gang, the Six Million Dollar Man, Scooby Doo, etc.

I, however, had to shlep a purple box–with a matching handle–adorned with the faces of the Osmond Brothers. If it had been a Donny and Marie lunch box, that might have made sense. I watched their show all the time (and, for the record, I was more than a little bit rock-n-roll). I don’t know where my mom got the idea I was into the entire Osmond clan.

The lunch box quickly rusted, so Mom got me a blue plastic lunch box the next year. It had no distinguishing features, which was fine with me. Fine, that is, until I realized its durability and inoffensive color meant I was stuck with it indefinitely.

I didn’t find any simple blue lunch boxes at the antique mall. I found nothing that inspired my interest for more than 90 seconds. If only I could have that feeling in every store and with my own stuff.

This week I’ve been cleaning out files and piles. It’s just phase one of what will likely be a long-term campaign of purging. This effort is different than the purge fits I have every so often, which are isolated and brief. Things really aren’t that bad, but I’m always a short step away from becoming the guy with a house full of boxes and papers stacked to the ceiling.

I’ve realized some of my habits needs to change. I’m indecisive and have a lot of potential projects that are not officially in the works. If the potential projects were real projects, I’d have no problems. I’m quite capable of organizing the concrete units in my life. I know where to find my bills (due and paid). My appointments are on my calendar, which I can access from anywhere online. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But the abstract stuff is an ongoing challenge. Much of the advice I’ve found about organization centers on the tried and ture idea that you need a place for everything and to put everything in its place. The problem with that for me is that I don’t always know what everything is, nevertheless where to put it. My creative work is dangerously openended. I have a precarious kind of creativity–I have it, as in it’s a gift, and it’s also an affliction. When I can make use of it, it’s a wonderful thing, but too often it transforms my grand visions into delusions of grandeur.

I don’t need to devote creative energy to my clerical life. For now, I’m focusing on getting rid of what I don’t need and making places for what I know I have. I’m also making sure to keep the openended stuff in one place so I can review it regularly.

This practice is incredibly obvious, I know, but it’s an important change. I’ve been ashamed of my creative chaos when I should acknowledge it, know it. Checking in gives form to a process that has been reactive at best. This process should help me reduce chaos, or at least harness some of its power.

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3 Responses

  1. This made me think back, fondly, on my earliest metal lunchbox. Very 70s, it had moddish flowers all over it. I also remember wishing I had one with characters on it (Cinderella or Fat Albert maybe); there was something very generic about mine. Although, in retrospect, it was gorgeous.

    This also makes me think more deliberately about some of my open-ended projects. I have some, and their unfinishedness clamors for my attention like a low-grade toothache. There’s something burdensome, to me, about having them. I wonder why unused projects, tucked away in drawers or piles, sap so much energy, and my unworn clothes, tucked away in my closet, just hang there, not clamoring to be worn.

  2. Oh, and, I too loved Donny and Marie and watched the show all the time and even discussed it the next day with my friend Lynn-Marie. “Did you see Donny and Marie last night?”

  3. I, too, have been wandering around the house throwing things out. (Sounds like THE SHINING.) I’ve been unearthing old writings. I’m impressed with what I wrote in sixth grade and horrified at what I wrote in my twenties.
    I was not a Donny and Marie watcher, but I did buy “16” Magazine once because it had Quentin from DARK SHADOWS on the cover. I’ve lost that, but I did find, just the other day, a TV GUIDE from 1972 with Rod Serling on the cover, promoting NIGHT GALLERY.

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