(an entry for the On Display collab)
26 September 2002
Thinking outside the box" has become a cliche.
If you think about the box, what's inside your box
On the shelf to the right of my computer sits a small laquered box.
It measures 6" x 7½" and is about 3" deep. It is painted in red, black and
gold and on the top of it is a picture of a portrait my aunt painted for me of a soprano
friend of mine. She's wearing a red velvet dress which is trimmed in gold and pearls (this
was her costume for a production of die Fledermaus). The gold and pearl motif is
carried over into the edges of the box, and down the sides. The box is locked with a small
lock and I have long since lost the key for it.
I know that inside the box are treasures. Not gold or jewels--or
even pearls--but things which were sentimental treasures to me at the time I put them in
there. I suspect they aren't all that important now, even if I could find the key to the
I've thought a lot about the topic for this month's On Display (obviously, since it's taken me
nearly a month to write it!). I realize that I've always kept special boxes, boxes filled
with treasures like my red laquered box. Only the treasures of my larger box aren't things
that you can hold in your hand.
In the box are memories of a life which has lasted nearly 60 years.
And they are the things which give me the will to live many more years. Things like the
amazing feeling of triumph at the final push which brings a new life into the world,
nuzzling the head newborn baby, the smell of amniotic fluid still clinging to it.
Moments of private personal triumph that few share--watching an
actress, who barely knew me, being honored by her peers and her fans in a celebration that
I fought for and arranged. She never knew that and it still stands today as a very
fulfilling moment for me. (Don't give me center stage and a spotlight. Give me the wings
to watch others in the spotlight).
Moments of more public personal triumph--The feeling of completing
my very first pride march, having been afraid I couldn't walk that far... the recent bike
ride to Winters... watching the pounds fall off...
Moments of pride--watching Ned conquer the pain of a belly flop
diving off a 5 meter tower, and then resolutely climbing the ladder and trying the dive
again--perfectly. Watching Paul being carried on the hands of fans after a stage dive.
Watching Jeri conducting an orchestra playing one of her own compositions. The sheer joy
on Tom's face as he walked across the stage to get his diploma from Cal Poly.
Moments of tenderness--the sight of Walt on his hands and knees in
his good suit in the dirt helping our friend maneuver her wheel chair up and down the
steps of a church.
Pictures to last a lifetime--the huge smile on David's face which
could light up a room. Gilbert's head bobbing up and down as he conducted the orchestra.
Steve with his arm outstretched. The Golden Gate bridge engulfed in fog. The Cliffs of
Mohr. Yosemite. Autumn leaves. A field of sunflowers. The tops of trees as
you float over them in a balloon.
There are big events like publishing a book, and events as small as
sitting on a couch talking about things with someone you love. Precious moments spent with
Laughter and love...and someone to cry with.
All of these are the treasures which fill my box these days. I don't
lock the box because I like to take my treasures out and look at them again, lovingly, and
realize that they have all given me strength and make me want to be the best person I can
(And besides, if I locked the box, I'd probably lose the key!)