“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Two Hours in a Cardboard Box
When I was a young girl I remember taking ownership of an oversized discarded cardboard freezer box. I drug it out to the backyard and my sister and I began transforming it into a new home. We cut windows and hung scraps of material for curtains. We found some old shag carpet remnants to cover the floor and drew pictures on the walls with crayons. The transformation was complete. It wasn’t long before the neighborhood kids noticed our creation and wanted to come inside. Over time we discovered the box held magic. When any of us stepped inside that cardboard box we found we could become anyone we wanted to be and we could travel anywhere we wanted to travel. We spent many hot summer days inside that cardboard box – never minding the uncomfortable heat. We played, we laughed, we told stories. That cardboard box became an endless portal to the power of our imaginations and a place to release and protect the magic of our minds.
It is said that imagination is the mind functioning at its most human – or, as perhaps might once have been imagined… it’s most divine.
As once a parent of small children and now as a grandparent of a wide-eyed four-year-old and two-year-old I often have and still do experience the ever-changing moods of a little person whose imagination hasn’t grasped the realities of our world. There are many days when I have to cuddle them through tears that have been brought on by a simple solvable frustration or bad dream or a make-believe fear… and unfortunately but necessarily…. I sometimes must tame their precious imaginations.
But this summer a large cardboard box was delivered to my home. My grandsons were fascinated with the size of the box. We drug it out to the driveway, painted it and cut out windows. The transformation was underway and something magical was happening. We entered the box together. For two hours we laughed and played, and I told them stories. For two hours we were anyone we wanted to be and we could travel to anywhere we wanted to go. Their imaginations were on fire, their eyes were bright and their laughter contagious … and I realized… so was mine. The portal had opened again…. and I got another chance to walk through – an opportunity to return to that feeling of the “divine mind”. Two hours later I climbed out of that cardboard box feeling free of the heavy heart and burdensome thoughts I had been dragging around in my mind. I felt refreshed. I felt joy. I realized, that although imagination never really comes to a full stop – as we grow older- our imaginations do become restrained, qualified and given direction. An adult filter is put in place with the passing of time and age. But on that summer day with my grandsons…. I was given the opportunity to see life without adult filters again; where magic happens… and happiness can be found in a giant cardboard box.
Could it be that simple…? That all we need in life is two hours in a cardboard box to reclaim our most human self and to rediscover our most “divine mind”.