What is the Magic of Empty Cardboard Boxes?
As I saw a friend’s cat enjoy playing with an empty cardboard box, it reminded me of the hours of fun my children used to have too.
Perhaps there’s even a connection with the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching:
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
is where it’s useful!
Cut doors and windows
To make a room.
Where the room isn’t,
There’s room for you.
So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.
From Tao Te Ching 11 by Lao Tzu, English Version by Ursula K. Le Guin
The emptiness inside cardboard boxes fascinates and inspires both cats and young children
There’s something about the space ‘where the room isn’t’ that entices them in.
Or they lay ready to pounce on an imaginary mousey treasure hiding beneath the cardboard flaps.
For a few days an empty box becomes the cat’s favourite snoozing place, and then just as suddenly, all interest is lost.
And little children share this passion for empty cardboard boxes too!
In the emptiness of the large cardboard boxes, discarded from household appliances, they breathed life into whole different worlds.
They imagined empty cardboard boxes into the mighty Argos ship and sailed the legendary seas with Jason and the Argonauts. They drove fire-engines, flew space-rockets into vast galaxies and created King Arthur’s castle at Camelot.
They played with unhindered expression and deep satisfaction. This is the awesome capacity for magic that children naturally have. They can visualise with eyes of innocence and creative wonder! And step into the exciting roles of others with pure joy.
When do we outgrow this capacity for magic and forget how we can be such marvellous creators of our lives?
My childhood empty box memory is not of the creative kind. It was a memorable moment when I ate 3 or 4 bowls of Rice Krispies in a row. I was certain that if I reached the bottom of the cereal box I would find a fairy.
I’d convinced myself that the beautiful picture of the fairy on the box was waiting for me. It was some kind of promotion where free gifts in cereal boxes were a big thing in those days!
It wasn’t until I reached the bottom did I realise I needed to save up some of the cereal box vouchers AND send some money, in order to receive a ‘fairy’. Which never happened!
Without desires or intentions, it’s easy to drift through life.
Yet with intentions and courage, we can step towards any pathway we wish.
If we dare to imagine, create and play, we can fill our lives with the bravery and confidence of young children and cats. The magic follows and becomes a reality!
Great Cardboard Box ideas here if you have small children in your life.
The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese classic which consists of 81 verses. It was written by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu around the 4th Century BC although dates and details vary. There are many translations into English, this one by Ursula K. Le Guin being one of them.
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