The Jack-in-the-Box

JackintheboxI wonder, at times, if one ever gets to the point of feeling as though they have been around forever.

To me, it feels as if I’m always astonished at how fast each year has gone by. Like one day I am making plans and setting goals for the new year and the next, I’m spending the day after Christmas getting rid of all the mess that Christmas left behind.

The bows, the empty boxes, the bits of wrapping paper, and the crumbs of edible goodies that were satisfactorily enjoyed by all.

The remains of celebration, family togetherness, and joy. The untainted, pure delight of happy children, wide-eyed with smiles that hold more truth than most things this world contains. The evidence of an event we had all been looking forward to all year.

Assembling new toys for the kids and struggling to find or create space for them; Space that is only imaginary now. Space that once seemed infinite. When the place was empty, before love and family moved in and filled every nook and cranny with the evidence of our existence.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when the days just seem to slow down. A day when I’ll feel like everything is done; Like all is well and my job is complete…if even for a single day.

Routine is just that, routine…but they say change is constant. Perhaps the only thing that really changes is the face staring back at you when you look in the mirror. The children that once were so small you could cradle them in one arm, who will eventually outgrow you. The loved ones that pass, leaving an aching void in your heart and home that can never be filled.

At times, I imagine myself in this box. There is this giant hand that I can see from the window as it winds a handle on the side of that box. It grips the handle tight, winding until the handle clicks, which causes all the commotion and growth in that box. When this giant winds it up, we move around in that box.

I wake up and make breakfast for the kids. I clean up. I entertain and we continue to do as we do until the box handle stops. We go to bed and rest up for our next day of motion and life, when the box handle winds up to a click again.

Sometimes I am able to pop out of this box. Things aren’t so predictable then because it’s always random; It’s always a surprise.

I explore the world outside of the box. I meet new people, make new friends, catch up with old friends, and exhaust myself, in every way possible, as much as possible. Then it ends. The giant hand pushes down on me, and down into the box I go, until the next time I spontaneously rise to the surface again.

Eventually, after days and days of living this existence in this box, the box itself, becomes worn. We are worn and ragged inside as well.

I wonder, at times, if the days will seem to slow then. When the vibrancy of life and love has subdued with age and loss. The loss of youth, of children who have grown and gone, and the loss of those we loved the most.

Is it then, and only then, that I will feel like all is well and my job is complete? Perhaps, it is only time that will tell.