A Japanese Puzzle Box

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde

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A Japanese puzzle box

When I was a young girl of nineteen, I took a trip with my family to England, to move my Grandmother out of her old house and into an assisted living house. She was so excited because she never had to cook again, and I was so excited to listen to old stories and go through old things with her. Her family: uncles and cousins and a brother, traveled on old steamships across the world from the port of Liverpool, always bringing back magical presents from Asia, Africa and Australia to the women sitting and waiting back home.

During that trip, my grandma gave me many things: an old porcelain shell-shaped ashtray, a Depression glass vase, a pressed-glass cigarette container, and a Japanese puzzle box. The box has no discernible openings, no drawers, and is inlaid on one side with birds and flowers, and the other with a mountain scene. Only she knew that if you slide the top panel to the right and the bottom to the left, that you discovered a hidden compartment: a drawer with a tiny button handle, in which you could store whatever you wanted.

———————-

Let us think about dreams for a second, a minute, an hour, a day. Dreams are, for me, what guide my decisions. My heart bends in one direction or another, tied fast to dreams of what life could be, what it could look like if I could realize the wishes and hopes in my mind. My gut tells me what feels right; deep in my body come the yeses and the nos that dictate what I know to be right and true for me.

My dreams, since moving to Maine over one year ago, are to realize, finally, my deepest wishes and desires. My dreams involve turning the looking glass inward and looking at myself, deep into my hazel-green eyes, and allowing my happiness and sadness to flow through me. My dreams are to let go of the control, of the planned future, and instead step into a place where I move through life doing the things that I want to do versus what will make others happy.

Realizing dreams is scary, and painful, and involves a hefty dose of selfishness. Realizing dreams also involves the acknowledgement that others may ask of you a justification, an explanation of behaviors or choices that do not make sense because they break with past patterns. Realizing dreams involves sitting down and having tea with yourself, and saying that the little person inside, the child if you will, has many unexpressed desires and missing pieces that must be delicately crafted.

Maybe life is like a puzzle: those long and sometimes dull games you play with old, wizened aunts who love horse-racing and overly-sugared cakes on rainy days when there is nothing else to do. Maybe you seek the four corners, laying them out carefully on the table, oriented correctly, and after that, you find the edge pieces, and build the frame. And maybe you never really finish the puzzle, but have to be content with searching through the pile of pieces for the next section that will come clear: the flowers, or the sky and its clouds. Maybe the puzzle pieces sit on a small table in the dining room for years and years, and every month or so you find a new piece that fits. And maybe you finish the puzzle, but maybe not. Perhaps the goal of the game is to be happy looking at the tiny pieces and wondering how they all fit together. These are the dreams, I think.

Sweet dreams.

puzzle purse 8x8 front

 

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3 thoughts on “A Japanese Puzzle Box

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