Cardboard Time Capsules

Unpacking after a move can often feel like the opening of a time capsule. There are pictures, clothing and miscellaneous items—all from another time in history—packed into boxes you long forgot existed. When you inevitably uncover them you find yourself transported back to that moment… that week… that summer… that period in your life when things were vastly different.

Perhaps they were better times, perhaps they were worse. Perhaps you are overcome with feelings of nostalgia, joy, surprise, grief or even relief that you are now sitting exactly where you are sitting at this particular moment in time. No matter the emotions that may wash over you, one thing will almost always be certain: Life looks different than you thought it would back then.

This week Lee brought in some boxes from the garage where we are still storing and sorting through my things. One of them contained a photo album, several envelopes with loose photos and a few cards and letters. He asked if he could look at the album and of course I said yes as I pulled my chair along side his in order to get a good look myself.

It was an album I put together of the summers I’d spent working on a dude ranch in Colorado during college. I was happy to see that although the photos were nearly 17 years old, I didn’t look radically different than I do today… minus a few laugh lines and crows feet. But the thing that struck me the most was the fact that Life hadn’t really touched me yet. In those images, Life and Circumstance had yet to ruffle my youthful feathers. Or trip me up and skin my knees.

Back then I operated under the naive assumption that the worst that could happen was a bad hair day, a rained-out horseback ride, accidentally calling a guest by the wrong name or a few broken dishes. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. Though I wouldn’t trade my then child-like idealism and ambition for anything. I would learn soon enough that the world wasn’t fair and sometimes bad things happen no matter how hard you work to avoid them.

We all do, eventually.

After we got done looking at the album and he got up and turned his attention to something else, I lingered over that box of photos and letters—this cardboard time capsule—and I looked at more images of times when I was younger, thinner, prettier, tanned and toned. And honestly, the thoughts and feelings they conjured up have been tumbling around in my head for days. Only now are they coming out through my fingers on the keyboard as I share this with you.

Truth be told I envy that girl and yet I remember that EVEN SHE occasionally thought (waaaay back then) that she wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough or good enough… yet. She thought that ONE day—when she was older—she would come into her own and everything would be perfect. Everything would be just as it should be.

Well, here she is. Here I am. That “one day” has arrived and you know what? I’ve decided after peering inside of my time capsule, that since I can’t go back and fix her unattainable aspiration for perfection… I can fix mine. I can live in THIS moment, enjoying all that I have right now, promising to always try and stay present. But most of all… no matter how many more time capsules I uncover in this lifetime… to stay grateful for all that has been and currently is.

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6 thoughts on “Cardboard Time Capsules

  1. JT says:

    Amen, Joanna, I have been in a somewhat similar reminiscent/introspective mindset and finding peace through gratitude has been a wonderful, (getting comfortable in my own skin) process. The what ifs of yesterday or the might be of tomorrow will forever elude us and rob us of the peace and contentment of right now. I am glad to hear you are settling in and sharing your thoughts for us 🙂

    • Thank you JT. I appreciate your encouragement. It is a hard thing to do but I guess when I found those pictures I realized that I had always been dis-satisfied no matter my age, appearance, circumstance, etc. I want to learn from that and do something about it now before I waste even more time! 😀

  2. Shawdiane says:

    Time comes & goes & before we know it, we are in the here & now looking back on ‘then’. In 2009 we moved from the buzz of London on the UK mainland to the little island of the Isle of Wight, only 65 uk mile across. Beautiful, beachy, friendly & out of the rat race. We love it, but we also loved the hussle & bussel of London. Like you we too still have boxes in the garage ( oh my I never want to see another box ever again) & at the weekend found some old photos of our times in the big city plus photos of my dream job at G Bernard Shaw’s home, Shaw’s Corner. It seemed like no time at all that we were moving from the North of England to Shaw’s house down South & looking forward to the exciting times ahead. And now, I have been there & done that. I too look more or less the same & not as yet showing the ‘ravages of time’ haha! Since moving to this lovely island, over 2 & 1/2 years now, I have learned to live day by day & slow right down. At first I wondered if it would be too boring (because slowing right down sounds boring doesn’t it) but not in the least. Although life is very diffrerent, we are still busy, but in more enjoyable ways & we have made lots of new friends which means we have been intoduced to doing new things. I love waking up to the twittering of birds & the sound of the ships hooting at each other & then being able to jump out of bed at any time of morning & run down to the beautiful beaches. We have some lovely shops selling island produce & there is always a friendly face greeting you to take your money, unlike the big city where you rush about constantly & never see a friendly face you know by name. So, I am glad I am where I am now & instead of only looking forward to what is ahead in my future, it is a sence of being ‘free’ to enjoy what I have & able to do ‘now’. I never thought the day would come that I could say this. So thank you for sharing your thoughts which as well as I enjoy reading, allows me to put my own into perspective. We all lead different lives, even when we live in the same towns or cities, because we each of us see life in our own unique ways. So, when you feel writers block, just think about me thousands of miles away, I don’t see what you see or feel, so just write it down what ever it maybe & I will gobble it all up & learn a little bit more about my knew friend in the USA.
    Have a great week Joanna & I look forward to more of your blogging. 🙂 Have Fun!

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