4.2.2022 – take time, understand

take time, understand
once a week, moment to pause,
reflect, consider

I happened to be reading the papers this morning off of my desktop computer instead of a tablet and came across the links at the bottom of the home page of The Guardian.

Readers of this blog will not be surprised that The Guardian (or Manchester Guardian) is my favorite source for news.

The stories are well written and for the most part adapted for Americans when it comes to spelling colour and theatre and centre.

And the history of the paper, that it was founded and endowed by a family back in 1850 or thereabouts so it would not have to depend on advertisers and could print the truth.

At least the truth as they saw it.

Across the bottom of the home page are links to other Guardian News options and one of the those options is the Guardian Weekly edition.

The blurb with the link states:

Take time to understand the week:
Once a week, take a moment to pause, reflect and consider. In the Guardian Weekly we select the highlights from our newspapers to bring you a deeper, more rounded view of world events.

I thought about that.

And I thought that I should take time to understand my week.

And I thought that once a week, I should take a moment to pause, reflect and consider.

So I tried it.

I tried to understand my week.

I took a moment and paused, reflected and considered my week.

First thing that happened is that I threw up.

Then I got back in bed and pulled the covers up over my head.

I may stay there a while.

I am in zugzwang and I cannot get out.

Zugzwang, you might remember, is a term from chess.

You are in zugzwang when it is your turn and you have to make a move and every move you can make is a bad move.

The online dictionary defines zugzwang as “a situation in Chess in which the obligation to make a move in one’s turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage.”

I am reminded of the short story, “A Box to Hide In” by James Thurber.

The story ends with:

But I still have this overpowering urge to hide in a box.

Maybe it will go away.

Maybe I’ll be all right.

Maybe it will get worse.

It ‘s hard to say.

The story 1st appeared in print in The New Yorker in January 24, 1931.

90 years ago, 190 years ago, 1900 years ago.

As Mr. Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

As they say, I shall endeavor to persevere.

Here in a poorly formatted format is the story:

A Box to Hide In - James Thurber 

I waited till the large woman with the awful hat took up her
sack of groceries and went out, peering at the tomatoes and
lettuce on her way. The clerk asked me what mIne was.
"Have you got a box," I asked, "a large box? I want a box to
hide in"

"You want a box?" he asked.

"I want a box to hide in," I said.

"Whatta you mean?" he said. "You mean a big box?"
I said I meant a big box, big enough to hold me. "I haven't
got any boxes," he said. "Only cartons that cans come in." I
tried several other groceries and none of them had a box big
enough for me to hide in. There was nothing for it but to
face life out. I didn't feel strong and I had this overpowering
desire to hide in a box for a long time.

"What do you mean, you want to hide in this box?", one
grocer asked me.

"It's a form of escape", I told him. "Hiding in a box, it
circumscribes your worries and the range of your anguish.
You don't see people, either".

"How in the hell do you eat when you're in this box?" ,
asked the grocer. "How in the hell do you get anything to
eat?".

I said I'd never been in a box and didn't know, but that
would take care of itself. "Well", he said finally, "I haven't
got any boxes, only some pasteboard cartons that cans come
in." It was the same every place. I gave up when it got dark
and the groceries closed, and hid in my room again. I turned
out the light and lay on the bed. You feel better when it gets
dark.

I could have hid in a closet, I suppose, but people are always
opening doors. Somebody would find you in a closet. They
would be startled and you'd have to tell them why you were
in the closet. Nobody pays any attention to a big box lying
on the floor. You could stay in it for days and nobody'd
think to look at it, not even the cleaning woman."

My cleaning woman came the next morning and woke me
up. I was still feeling bad. I asked her if she knew where I
could get a large box.

"How big a box you want?", she asked. "I want a box big
enough for me to get inside of", I said. She looked at me
with big, dim eyes. There's something wrong with her
glands. She's awful. But she has a big heart, which makes it
worse. She's unbearable, her husband is sick and her children
are sick and she is sick too. I got to thinking how pleasant it
would be if I were in a box now, and didn't have to see her
I'd be in a box right there in the room, and she wouldn't
know.

I wondered if you have a desire to bark or laugh when
someone who doesn't know walks by the box you're in.
Maybe she would have a spell with her heart if I did that and
would die right there. The officers and the elevator man and
Mr Grammage would find us.

"Funny, dog gone thing happened at the building last
night", the doorman would say to his wife. "I let in this
woman to clean up 10-F and she never came out, see? She
never there more than an hour. But she never came out,
see?" So when it get time for me to get off duty, I says to
Crimmack in the elevator, "I says what the hell you suppose
happened to the woman that cleans 10-F?" He says he didn't
know. He says he never seen her after he took her up. So I
spoke to Mr Grammage about it. "Sorry to bother you, Mr.
Grammage", I says, "but there's something funny about that
woman that cleans 10-F". So I told him - he said we better
have a look. And we all three goes up, knocks on the door,
rings the bell, see, and nobody answers

So he said we'd have to walk in. So Crimmack opened the
door and we walked in. And there was this woman, cleans
the apartment, dead as a herring on the floor, and the
gentleman that lives there was in a box.

The cleaning woman kept looking at me. It was hard for me
to realize she wasn't dead. "It's a form of escape", I
murmured. "What say?", she asked dully? "You don't know
of any large packing boxes, do you?", I asked. "No, I don't,
she said."

I haven't found one yet. But I still have this overpowering
urge to hide in a box. Maybe it will go away. Maybe I'll be
all right. Maybe it will get worse. It 's hard to say.

You can read the short story here.


One thought on “4.2.2022 – take time, understand

  1. I believe, without a physical box to hide in, people build them in their mind. Whether it is a necessary coping mechanism to stay alive or because they lack the strength to face reality and take the easy way out instead, they build their own box. It clearly hurts to leave the box. Sometimes, you can help someone leave their box, but it really is terribly sad to see someone who wants to stay there and never ever leave despite the fact that staying there means they are harming themselves. Sometimes it is too painful to watch an you have to walk away-build a fence. Fences make good neighbors.

    Like

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