Containers

November 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last winter I was living temporarily on Salt Spring Island, but still had my apartment back in Montreal. I didn’t know where I wanted to live and was flitting back and forth across the country trying to loosen my ties and make a decision one way or another.  A friend who I’d been having Tuesday morning coffees with over the winter finally let me have it:

“You’ve got to drop anchor,” he told me, concerned.  “First of all, you’re going to open a bank account.”

I realised then and there, that if I was going to have a livelihood on Salt Spring, a small island in the Salish Sea, with a rural population that hovers around 10,000, I’d need a place to put my earnings.  I needed a container.  Of course, I had a bank account in Montreal, and even a branch in Victoria where I could do my banking, but not having an account on the island was both a practical and psychological block to “dropping anchor.”

There’s been a lot of talk of late about the Law of Attraction, which posits that what we think about soon becomes reality.  I’m not sure I believe there is a universal law that manifests the quality of our thoughts into a lived experience. I have, at the same time, noticed the consistency between cause and effect. It’s not so much that what we think about becomes reality, but that what we make room for, tends to develop and grow with very little effort.  Build a container, and you will soon fill it.

A good example of what I am talking about is Facebook. Have you noticed that your brain has started to automatically generate status updates?  Whenever something of note happens to me throughout the day, I automatically think of it in terms of a status update. For example, two days ago I was doing my grocery shopping and on the car-ride home came up with this: “You know you are from Salt Spring when you go to the grocery store on a Tuesday afternoon, you hang with Raffi in the cheese isle, you think your gumbboots look hot, and you can’t get out of there without spending $100 — and you can’t even spell gumboots.”

If it weren’t for facebook, would I be thinking in these kinds of sentences? Would I be communicating this way? Would I have even noticed the humour in my shopping experience?  Facebook has come to define what we want to communicate and how, a bid for connection across the cyberspace, a container that shapes our thoughts and even how we make sense of our experiences.

Another example is this blog.  It is the container for my ideas, essays, poetry and prose.  Was I writing this much before I had a blog? Not even close. It’s only because of the container — the format of this blog– that I am spurred on to write, and now I can’t stop. I have a container that needs to be filled, people!

I build a garden and suddenly, six months later, I am eating salads and fruits from it every day.  The garden is my container, it exists and so I’m contributing to it, filling it with what it expects of me, and then, around harvest time, I find that it is full.

This isn’t voodoo or magic, it’s simply the miracle of life itself — that all containers long to be filled, they long to do their job.

Perhaps the most important thing we can ever realise is that people are our containers also. They are our containers — our keepsakes– for how we come to view ourselves and make meaning out of our lives.  Some people are our containers for love and trust. Since they see our beauty, we want to give them more of it, we want to fill them up with the offerings of ourselves.  But other people are a different sort of container, they see our shortcomings, or they ignore us,  and we seem to produce more and more of what we don’t like – invisibility, frustration, and pain.  Sometimes, we even come to believe that we are bad or not good enough, simply because we’ve found there is that pesky container that needs to be filled!

We’re other people’s containers, also.  When a parent’s face lights up when her child enters the room, she has become a container for the child’s light, and the child learns he is a star, he’s found a container of love.

Our containers, eventually, become our identities.

As for me, I’m happy I opened that bank account.  I’ve got more in it now than when I started last year.

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