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Quantum Stuff

February 23rd, 2010

I have several medium-sized cardboard boxes sitting around unopened from the last time I moved (about nine months ago).  They are nondescript and unlabeled.   Just strong, brown, plain boxes.  What they hold I do not remember.

If somebody put a gun to my head and said, “Tell me what’s in those boxes or you’ll die!” — well, I’d probably open them up and inform the inquisitive aggressor of the contents.  However, if the hypothetical gunman stopped me and insisted that I answer before looking, I would be without a clue:

“Books, perhaps?” I would stammer.  “Ok, which ones?” would be the response.  Again, I would draw a complete blank.

Clearly, I haven’t missed the utility of whatever lies in those cardboard caskets.

The only certainty is uncertainty; what they hold is — simultaneously — both valuable and worthless.  It will take observation to collapse it into a single truth.

I’m sure that the moment I open those boxes, I will be unable to live without whatever they contain.

  1. Hachfeld
    February 24th, 2010 at 01:23 | #1

    I understand what you mean. I have been living temporarily (6 Months) in a furnished house with roommates. That means all my stuff is in storage. I have realized how you feel you need things only when you know you have them.

  2. February 24th, 2010 at 09:31 | #2

    I like the title.

    I wouldn’t open them. Keep the mystery alive.

  3. Vince
    February 24th, 2010 at 10:46 | #3

    Well, unless you’re keeping them outside in the Minnesota cold, you can be fairly certain there isn’t a cat in one of the boxes…I’m sure the stench would be unbearable by this point…

  4. alex
    February 24th, 2010 at 12:35 | #4

    “I’m sure that the moment I open those boxes, I will be unable to live without whatever they contain.”
    this is a brilliant insight. you should get rid of them without opening. we can’t bear to let known things go, but maybe we can let unknown things go.
    i was just thinking the same thing about all my stuff. i was going to perhaps get rid of one thing a day for a hundred days, but it’s never a good time.

  5. Homan
    February 24th, 2010 at 16:21 | #5

    This is quite a brilliant post. I know that I’ve felt the exact same way about things before. We only value the things we have when we actually have them. If they are hidden away, they lose all value, rendering their previous value moot. I say toss them without looking, but I also acknowledge that I probably wouldn’t be able to do that myself.

  6. February 24th, 2010 at 19:09 | #6

    I feel you. We lived without a pick-up truck load of our belongings for almost 5 months. Some of the items made me wonder why I had saved them at all. Others I definitely missed. It amazed me how unbearably strong the urge to make a bundt cake was when my pan was 2500 miles away.

  7. Edmonson
    March 3rd, 2010 at 23:28 | #7

    Good post. I would say make a pact that you will get rid of what is in the box. Give it to someone to inventory and either sell or give to charity. No sense in trash perfectly good invaluable valuables. Of course if there was something you needed you can always go get another one.

    When I moved to the UK, the idea of what I needed to have that was my own shrank dramatically. All I had that was “mine” fit into four suit cases (only one of which you could label as large). Also, I went without internet for a good bit of time and without a cell phone. It was an amazing living in almost a minimalist type setting.

    Now that I’m back my wardrobe has grown, but not to it’s previous size. I’ve now found a lot of value in ridding my space of the unnecessary, for now at least.


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