We often hang onto things that aren’t good for us. It can be a physical thing like Grandma’s broken figurine, but the really damaging things are the thoughts and feelings we keep in our mental basement. It’s like keeping asbestos. It’s not good for us, will eventually kill us, but we’re so used to having it we don’t bother to throw it away – or maybe we’re even afraid to throw it away without a HazMat suit? I dreamt of sending this garbage down the river in paper boats, one paper boat per person or situation, and the boats bobbed on the water in a long line, disappearing around a bend in the river. Seemed like an excellent “remedy” to put into reality.
First, I had to remember how to make a paper boat...
#1 Get an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper.
#2 Fold it in half. Ooh! A different pattern on the back side! I’m thinking darkness one side, letting in the sun on the other.
#3 Fold the corners down to the middle.
#4 Fold up the leftovers on both sides. Now you have a paper hat.
#5 Stick your fingers inside and squash your paper hat into a diamond.
#6 Fold up the point on both sides.
#7 Put your fingers inside again and squash it into a diamond again.
#8 Pull the tips apart, and presto! You have a paper boat.
Next, I had to identify how many boats I needed. I wondered, could I put Monica, Mark, and Sylvia on one boat, or did I need a separate boat for each of them? Could I make one boat for each repeat offender, or did I need a boat for each situation? It seems like an awful lot of boats to make, and just the idea of it makes me feel too tired to start folding, but it also seems like labor is a meditative thing in itself and worth doing. I’ll try not to think about littering up the river with a ream of paper.
I spent my morning fooling around with this concept, and it dawned on me to make boats like I did when I was a kid. Mom doled out paper like it was a precious commodity, so I made do with bark and leaves and other things I found along the side of the river, saving my paper for important stuff like drawing. I put flowers and bugs on my boats and sent them off with my best wishes to Lake Erie.
Mom will howl about how paper is expensive when she reads this, and say she was virtuously thrifty, probably with a side rant about my niece wasting paper after one line when she doesn’t like that line. Let’s make a boat for that too. We don’t have to remind Mom that I like making boats or point out I’m the one who bought my niece paper so she wouldn’t have to justify her creative pursuit of excellence.
All this garbage clutters my mind. It can be little stuff like Mom’s rants about waste, or it can be big things like getting stabbed in the back, or stabbed in the front for that matter. It’s all drifting down the river, around the bend, and out of sight.
Where Go the Boats?
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Dark brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating –
Where will all come home?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore