When I was in college, my mom told me about a box that she kept in the back my bedroom closet. It was there the whole time I was growing up. The box was a torn, sad, brown corrugated, hardly worth remembering — but I remembered it. From time to time, as a tiny curious person, I would crawl back into the deep, dark depths of my closet to see what secrets were kept there.
I was not too good at refolding box tops and that box had the four sides folded in –in the way people do when tape isn’t an option. The center where they met had been smashed from years of heavier boxes being set upon it. In every way, it was a box perfectly designed never to capture the interest of a child. So the box could, and did, hide in plain view most of my childhood.
Inside that box, at any given moment, sat about twenty percent of my current ownership of toys. Every so often, my mother would rotate a few toys into and out of that box. She said that I never missed the toys that went into the box. She said that when toys came back out, I acted as if they were brand new. My mother said the box taught me to take care of my toys and value them. My mother should have been a child toy psychologist.
Over the years, I’ve come to think of that broken brown box as a toy safety box.
I’ve often thuoght I wish we had a safety box like that for words.
Important words get tossed around like old toys do. Some words once had truly great meanings — words such as truly and great. They seem to have lost their depth and sparkle. In my heart, I know that the first time someone wrote yours truly, it meant more. So, too did the word, sincerely. Do people think what they are saying when they write them? What about when they write Love?
I wonder. What about when we write wonder?
Words are so important. They need the depth of meaning that they were born with.
Good once was good. Nice used to roll nicely off the tongue. Beautiful it was so breathtaking, it never needed a very to help it. Imagine how great something or soemone great used to be — someone like Alexander.
Joy might be the word I miss the most.
At one time joy filled a heart. I think about joy. I wish for joy, and I wish joy for my friends, and yet when I write the word, it seems shallow, not conveying how deeply I wish for them.
Joy is exponentially greater than the happiness we all seek, but the word has been made flat like old soda. Now it calls up thoughts of Seasons Greetings and green box bottoms with clear covers in drug stores every November. It’s laced with cranky people standing in lines at cash registers. How can I wish true joy when it conjures up images of chaos and too much to do?
I wish we could hide words the way my mother hid my toys. I wish we could place them in a safety box, back in my childhood closet until they were new again.
We might have to learn a few new words. We might to stop and think about the words we choose, but maybe that could lead to new thoughts. Would that be so bad?
We might even leave some words in the box to stay there until we understood their power — words we don’t need, words that hurt., words that separate people.
It would be good to take heartfelt words off advertising. where we don’t really mean them. That might lead us to find new ways to express ideas. We could let the words we put away stay gone for months and see how we do at communicating.
When we brought the over-used words back, we might find that we think differently about them. We might not use them not so frequently, not so frivolously. We might not put them on billboards.
I want to know joy, good will, and peace as something more than words on a Christmas card.
Joy. Love. Beauty. Quality. Forgiveness. Peace. Hope. Truth. Friend. Hero. Loyalty. Value. Add your own words here.
I wish you all of those words — the real ones.