The Big Box of Memories

A few weeks ago, I made my first long trip since the virus lockdowns. It was time to sell my Dad’s prized car collection and the entire family was getting together to celebrate and commiserate. While in town, I went over to the garage where he had kept his collection. The “car shack” now houses all the boxes from the attic. Old financial records, ancient photographs, paintings that scream 1970 and other memorabilia are positioned where we can make decisions about what to do with the all the stuff of life.

In the midst of all of this, I found a box called “Lynn’s scrapbook.” There was no book in there per se – but the box was clearly filled with lots of old stuff from my childhood. While I stopped to look at a few of the things from my young years– like a sketch of a horse – I mostly focused my limited time on taking care of more pressing matters. Jen and I just piled the box along with several other things into the rental car and took it to the UPS Store to package and ship home.

The huge box arrived a few days later and it’s been sitting here, unopened until yesterday. I had a few minutes between meetings and decided to open it up – and immediately closed it right back. What stared me in the face were papers, pictures, stacks and stuff. Lots of them.

This is going to take a while.

I took a deep breath and decided to just do a quick scan with the 15 minutes I had.

What struck me most were the seeds of my future that were planted in the few things I’ve pulled out. I found a ceramic piggy bank that reminds me of the pottery I do today.

Was this the reason I became such a good saver in my adult life? Was the seed of becoming a potter planted 50 years ago in this vessel?

There was my “horseback riding” certificate from going to Camp Letoli when I was eight. Was this where I started my love of horses?


I found art – lots of sketches and drawings and paintings. Was this where my artist journey truly began?

Inside of an old textbook, I found a handwritten spreadsheet where my journey as an accountant started.

And the note. In kindergarten and first grade, I took ballet. I remember hating it. The note asks – no begs – my mother to let me quit ballet. She did and I’ve never regretted it.

So many of the seeds of our adult life are sown in our childhood. Some of my seeds sprouted immediately; others after 40 years. There are others long forgotten, perhaps never to sprout.

Just like a garden, the seeds of life are ours to tend. Where do we choose to plant them? How will we care for them? What kind of nourishment do the need? What do we cultivate? Where will we cull and prune to make room for joy to grow?