Friday, May 31, 2013

A Box Full Of Everything Worth Knowing

My friend David gave us a big box. He said it could be anything we wanted it to be. What we wanted it to be was a big box.

We got inside and pulled the flaps shut. Sometimes we were in there alone, but usually we were in there together. 

It's quieter in there, our senses are deprived of the hubbub of the classroom, brought alive instead by the other people with whom we are now in enclosed proximity, breathing their steamy breath, smelling of skin, soap, fabric softener, breakfast, sounding muffled and intimate when they speak, a shadow barely visible in the faint light leaking through the cracks.

Our bodies touch in there, thighs against mine, living flesh, flesh and bone: negotiating for a parcel of the limited space, clambering over, being stepped upon, fingers pinched under a shoe.

Sometimes there are too many of us: hot and crowded and the person in the darkest part wants out, crying to be let out, shouting to open the door.

But mostly it's about us on the inside, while they, our dimly heard, unseen friends, are on the outside. We know they're there, we hear them, they knock on the box, beating it like a drum, or they shake it, saying, "Earthquake!" We're in here, in here together, and all of that going on out there is another world where they understand nothing about making eye-contact in the dark, or the warmth of our bodies pressed together, the intimacy of being in a box together with the lid shut.

Later Teacher Tom started cutting windows in the places we said we wanted them, windows with flaps so we could open and close them. 

Now the outside can get in whenever it wants, is always getting in as friends pop a hand through, or a head. 

Sometimes we yell at them from the inside to "Close it! Close it!" And they do, but not for long enough, as they are curious about us, the people on the inside.

Now the inside can get out too, through these windows. Here I am! 

Pop! Did you think I was lost?

We brought everything we know about ourselves and other people to bear on this project of playing with this big box, we had to because the space on the inside was so small and dark and inviting.

And even on the outside the space was small, the surface space, and everyone wanted a part of it. 

There were frustrations and intimacies, cheers and tears, people not doing what we wanted them to do and us not understanding when they needed something from us. There were times to fight our battles and times to let it slide. We took turns, we waited, we changed our plans, we came back later. We were persuasive and persuaded, we lost and we won, but mostly we found ways to agree because there was only one box and many of us.

We wanted it to be a big box. We used it to practice what we know about getting along.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend the book "This is our house" by Michael Rosen as a supplement to the box experience.