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You have a choice to deal with something now or pack it up put it to one side. The part of you that believes yourself to be logical says that you will deal with it later. There’s also that part of you that does so because you know that out of sight means out of mind.
The idea for this blog came from thinking about one of the best horror films from last year, Hereditary. I wrote about it last year. I liked it, there was a lot of creepy imagery. One of the more striking aspects of the film was Toni Collete’s character’s miniatures. In the context of the film, she was an artist who made tiny tableaux. Symbolically you as an audience member no what it represents.
She is a woman who will compartmentalise her trauma. At one point she makes a miniature of her daughter’s death by car crash. Even going so far as to design a small decapitated head. It upsets her husband, he thinks she’s being cold and detached.
You recognise what she is doing. You’ve done it yourself. You take something that you have to deal with, and you put it in a real or metaphorical box, and you put it away. It’s okay because you don’t have to deal with it now. That’s fine, you avoid the discomfort now, and maybe if you pack it away for long enough, you won’t have to deal with it.
I know you do this because I have done this.
It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for me. The more boxes, the more that they’re going to pile up. One day something might cause those boxes to fall. Then you’ll have to deal with what’s inside them whether you want to or not.
#It’s not your fault.
You have a lot to deal with, and you know that you will come back and deal with it at a later date. Sometimes you forget to go back.
Would you rather deal with something now and face discomfort or put it away and not deal with it?
I know which one I would choose.
Let’s be honest, everyone does it.
Look at society in general. It loves to compartmentalise.
What are hospitals? How do we deal with the sick?
You take the sick and stick them in a bed next to other sick people.
Pack them in as tight as possible. Either the patient dies, or they are no longer sick. They leave only to come back and die some other day.
Think about the dead.
What do we do with them?
Pack them in a box and shove them in the dirt. Now there are many who get condensed down so much that you can put them in the tiniest of boxes. Tinier the box the less you have to deal with. Any unresolved issues that you might have will go in that box with them.
Problem solved right?
What about criminals? How do we deal with them?
You take a criminal, put them in a cell, separate them from the rest of us for a certain amount of time then they can come out. Sometimes if they are so bad, they stay in that box until they are put in another box.
How do they deal with the criminals amongst the criminals?
They get put in solitary confinement. Wardens compartmentalise the compartmentalised.
The point that I’m trying to make is that everyone compartmentalises.
Out of sight out of mind?
What does that expression mean? On one level it says that something you can’t see won’t trouble you.
It could also mean this: that which you can neither see nor address will drive you to insanity. It will drive you out of mind.
There’s a chance that I’m not making myself as clear as I could be. Let me open up with a more personal example.
Start of 2017
I had broken up with my girlfriend. My girlfriend of seven years. My parents really liked her, and they were disappointed that I had done so.
You know what? I’m going to name her. Compartmentalising her would be easy. Label her “my ex” and put her in the box with the rest of them.
Her name was Grace, and we had broken up.
It was the start of 2017, and I was back at square one.
This was probably one of my lowest points.
Let me clarify with you. No, I wasn’t suicidal or depressed or anything like that. I was without any motivation, wanting to give up on life. Give up in the sense that I would cease doing anything creative or anything that interested me. Give up on the writing, singing, comedy.
I would just play video games, watch Youtube videos and eat Wotsits until my time on this Earth was over. I wasn’t committing suicide directly, but I was doing it in an indirect, passive-aggressive way.
Can’t remember who suggested it, was it mum, dad or did I decide to do it myself. I decided to clean out my room.
This feels embarrassing but to clean up my room, I read a book on how to do it: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I’ll boil down the essence of the book for you right now, for free: Any object that you touch that does not give you joy, throw out.
I set to it. I opened a box, went through the contents. Discarded anything that had me asking myself, “Why am I holding on to this”.
It was a time of letting go.
There was another effect, and that was the feeling of weight being lifted from my mind. The fog in my room had transferred into my mind. Once I began clearing the boxes the fog in my mind started to clear.
At one point my father came into my room to see how I was getting on. I can’t remember the exact words, but I remember the exact feeling. It started with him saying something about how I was getting on well. It ended with me responding something along the lines of how I wished that I was more like him. I was crying, and that might have set him off (Majury men have a tendency towards the melodramatic). I remember him coming towards me. Me getting off the floor to meet him. We slipped on loose pages and had our legs splayed to avoid stepping on old toys that I was keeping. We kind of collided into each other with a thump. It was at once the most awkward hug and yet the best hug.
Never felt so close to my father as I did at that moment.
I don’t know if my dad remembers that but that memory will remain with me until I can remember no longer.
It was all because I had decided to open up those packed away boxes and looked at what was inside.
Now the room was tidier, less cluttered.
It still needs more work done, but now there is less to do.
What’s in the box?
I’m not telling you that if you go through old bank statements, you’re going to have a breakthrough with your spouse.
No, what I am saying is that it might be easier to put things away, let those boxes pile up. It is, it’s much easier to do that.
What I am saying is that you could save yourself the potential bother. Every now and then taking down a box and seeing what’s inside.
Taking it one box at a time is much better than waiting until they all come tumbling down.
One box at a time.