Saturday, March 04, 2006



Julian has his siret number at last from the Maison des Artistes and so he can order packing boxes. We spent yesterday and today saying goodbye to oysters and blue tins, blood oranges, lavender fileds and lemons, shutting their colour up momentarily in four drab card corners until it is released like an aroma in its new home.

To celebrate (again!) we went to the cinema in Avignon to see Terrence Malik’s ‘New World’. Julian had to persuade me, reminding me of ‘Badlands’ and ‘Days of Heaven’, because I didn’t really fancy boats and spears and face paint. What I saw was an extraordinary prayer to the earth and a film, in a way, about boxes.

Settlers arrive in Virginia to make a New World. They make boxes and put a box around their box just to be extra safe. They are so eager to make their boxes they do not realise there is a world which already exists here, a vibrant, nourishing and peaceful world which their boxes are shutting out. Their world turns the colour of drab card. There is famine, cold, jealousy and hatred. Hatred turns, of course, to war.

Meanwhile, in the forest, the Princess, Pocahontes choreographs her dialogue with her God – ‘Mother’, whom we presume to be Mother Earth – and to the hunky Colonel Smith through a dance. In this dance, I noticed that all her movements communicate opening – to the moon, the stars, the sun, her lover. They are the anti-box.

Waiting for a table after the film in the camp brasserie with distressed walls à côté, it felt to me like Julian and I had no walls, not even skin between us. It was delicious. The waiters there are used to the two of us coming in crying so that was fine.

This morning I noticed Julian went out to do his own version of saluting the mountain (thinly disguised as emptying the ‘poubelle’) BEFORE sitting down at the computer. I, meanwhile, tried out some of the movements on my run: I brought my palms flat against my waist and moved them outwards in front of me, the space between them increasing as they moved away and what was ‘I’ momentarily became Mountain. The peasants pruning their olive trees didn’t seem to mind much – nothing new to them, I suppose - and I have to admit it felt wonderful. I did it again and again.

We have all been put into many boxes, and of course we make them for ourselves all the time, or try to fit into ones we made years ago when we were a size 10. I remember being told one year at Glyndebourne that I could not play the Mozart opera because I was a ‘big romantic cellist’. The next year, having been the only person who dared to audition for the continuo in the Mozart and then doing a good job, I found myself being put in the opposite box (and you can’t be in two boxes at once) by the same person. I could not protest.

What interests me now, however, are the subtler boxes, the every day barriers we put up between ourselves and Other or indeed Mother. If meditation practice is about anything for me, it is about not being in a bloody box for 15 minutes a day.

(I remember, as I often do, our sixteen year old guide in Nepal who always talked about the mind as ‘Empty Box’. How, then about No Box?)

Julian’s paintings are packed up and at the post office. His recent success could give him the possibility to crawl out of other people’s boxes and be, quite simply, here.



Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I'm not entirely sure how far it's possible to be boxless. We're programmed for pattern-recognition and need some assumptions and categories to get us through the day. But I completely agree about the damage we can cause to others by trying to keep them in boxes of our own devising when they don't fit. And I think boxlessness is a worthy aspiration, even though I'm unsure about its achievability. I hope Julian will very soon have no boxes to inhabit other than those he chooses freely.

5:38 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

Zinnia, you are absolutely right about boxlessness!! I was just playing with the idea really. Of course we need containers and form is made out of beautiful boxes and we need to protect ourselves sometimes too...but that's a whole nother post!

Thank you anyway for taking me so seriously. I don't deserve it!

5:47 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

You write so beautifully about abstract themes. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your pensees (sorry no accents). Cheering up my Irish winter no end...

6:50 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Ruth, thanks for a post that made me laugh out loud and smile big smiles. Here's to choosing carefully which boxes we want to cradle the precious cargo of our lives, and to breaking them down periodically to savor them like a released aroma! Wonderful post, really.

9:49 PM  
Blogger zhoen said...

My cat would love to jump into that box and sit there.

He would hate it if the box was closed on him in there.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Dale said...


2:25 AM  

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