my passion for boxes, explained

I’m minimalist in many ways, but I have a tendency to hold onto old papers, tea, and boxes. While I probably also have an admiration for labels and boxes in the more abstract sense, I love physical boxes. I’ll keep a shoebox or an old mail package, and I have a particularly warm desire towards small boxes that have designs running all over them.

It’s a bizarre love, and I fully acknowledge it. Boxes give me the same sensation shopping in Staples gives a lot of people. When we buy organizers, sticky notes, pens, folders, and all the rest of the glamorous office life materials, it makes us feel good because it’s the illusion of productivity. It’s a sign of a new start. It’s as if by buying new products, we can completely rewire how disorganized and unproductive we are. There are probably individuals in this world who actually can carry through on that personal promise, but most of us fail because buying a folder doesn’t change the habits we already have. Most of us will end up throwing the piles of papers on our desk into the folder, without actually reorganizing them and keeping only what we need.

While there is a strong move against materialism, saying that what we have around us is irrelevant to the important connections we have to other people, materials have far more impact on us than is immediately obvious. Of course, our relationships matter and should be valued, but saying that material things are irrelevant ignores the fact we are physical people in a physical world. If we are disorganized, it carries into our psychological health. Having clutter dramatically impedes our ability to think clearly. When we don’t have our work ordered, we can end up forgetting simple things and subsequently feeling horrible about our abilities.

When I first gained my love of boxes, I would keep all of them. I would keep every shoebox, every cardboard anything that could make me feel like I had storage. However, the more I did it, the more I realized that I wasn’t actually changing how orderly I was. I still had clutter, it was just now better contained. While that was a step in the process, I realized I wanted to change. I didn’t want the rush of feeling in the expectation of being tidy, I wanted to actually be tidy. I wanted to use the folders I had and not buy the supplies I wouldn’t use. More than that, I needed to throw away some of my boxes. So I do! And it makes the boxes I keep more precious to me.

Whatever our obstacle is, being conscious of how we want to change for the better is key. You can do far more than you think.

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