I have a box I keep in my car.
A small, dark box with a name:
The purpose of this box is straightforward.
Before exiting the car, I open the box, which is empty, and scoop the contents of my soul out of my body and into the box.
Everything I love, everything I hate, everything that gives me pleasure or pain, everything that excites me, engages me, repulses me, detracts from me.
I put it all in this box which I close up tight and leave in the car, safe from all interference.
OK, I’m not literally scooping anything out of my body. That would make a mess in the car, raising a lot of awkward questions every time I take it in to be detailed.
No, this is more of a visualization exercise.
You know, like the guy who would get home from work, go to a tree in his front yard, and “hang” all the woes from his job on the tree in order to leave them behind before he went inside to his family.
Kinda like that.
Why do I do this? Simple – pain management.
When you find yourself under a constant barrage of negative energy and mass shootings in the news and voter suppression on your twitter feed and a constant stream of other injustices and always having to be the rock other people cling to while the same bad things work to drown them too, you quickly reach the point where you are done.
With all of it.
But that’s not really an option, is it?
So how do you make all the pain go away so you can function?
If you can’t stop the source(s) of the pain, stop the receiver.
Tuck your soul away in a box where no one and nothing can touch it, influence it, or look sideways at it.
Sure, life seems a bit…muffled, fuzzy around the edges, but it’s so much quieter. And you can still pay your bills and balance your checkbook and keep your car in its lane while you’re driving.
Which might not be the case if you’re being crushed under the weight of everything.
Everything crushing you can be distracting.
To be fair, my system isn’t perfect. I have had some minor setbacks.
The dog got into the box the first day I used it, before I started leaving it in the car.
Bitch ate my soul!
I was all for cutting it out right away, but the Missus (and the wailing Kiddos on their knees beseeching me) convinced me to wait for nature to take its course.
I’ll be honest with you, I washed that soul thoroughly, several times, and it still doesn’t smell (or feel) quite right since that incident.
And a couple of weeks ago I gave the kiddos the keys to the car so they could get their backpacks out of it, and they found the box.
And played with it.
And lost it.
Hid it, more likely.
I didn’t have a soul at that point, so I didn’t get too angry, but strong words were still used, and after several days of on and off searching, the soul (and the box) turned up, albeit a bit rough around the edges.
About a month into this regime, a really intense, well-dressed but still creepy gentleman approached me, offering to buy my soul. For a really, really good price.
I mean a don’t-worry-about-the-mortgage-or-needing-a-job-anymore good price.
But sell your soul to a stranger, and who knows what they’ll do with it (or what they’ll feed it to).
Better to tuck it away nice and cozy in a Soul Crusher box.
I’ve been boxing my semi-tangible, gooey side since the beginning of September and things are working out great now that I have my soul shedding routine down pat.
Life is way easier when you don’t have to live it.
Nothing makes me angry.
Nothing makes me sad.
I just don’t care.
While most of you are hoping I’ll tell you how to get your own Soul Crusher box (“Operators are standing by! Act now and we’ll throw in a Potato Masher and Melon Baller, absolutely free!”), there’s probably a naysayer or two out there muttering, “Now hang on, Ian, that’s horrible! You’ve excised your soul! The very essence of what makes you…you! You’re just an empty shell, shuffling along from moment to moment with no spring in your step, no twinkle in your eye, no joy or warmth.”
My response sans soul: Maybe. But along with that, also no walking around feeling like my guts are going rise up and burst out of my throat, no fear that we’ll make the world unlivable before my kids reach adulthood, no dread that I’m about to lose my job, have undiagnosed cancer, that I’m a failure as a husband and father, that I’m impotent, or that I’m going to bomb during the Improv show I’m in on Monday.
(Note to self: without my soul, I will bomb in that show. Must decide if I care enough to put it back on beforehand.)
I’m also a much more pleasant passenger without my soul, as backseat driving seems pointless.
That’s a fairly tepid response, but still true. Now, if my soul was burdening me right now, if all the angst and fear and anger and hatred and despair and passion it embodies was contaminating me right as you made your claim, the vigor and intensity of my response to your statement would leave you shaken and terrified and checking the locks on your doors every two minutes.
But lucky for you, I don’t have my soul right now.