July 28, 2018, John Æonid
It was probably the Spring of 2013. I was walking along Main St. of Laurel Maryland and visiting the various shops there. The weather was fair, and the small trees along the sidewalks were full of green. I'd noticed that an old art and drafting store had closed, though it wasn't empty yet. I'd been in there before and found the oldness of it charming. One of my Grandfathers was a cartographer and the other an Architectural Engineer. I'd inherited some of the drafting tools they'd used, and I'd taken both mechanical and architectural drawing in high school, so I've always been fond of what these shops held and the history behind them. These are the tools that were used to engineer the dreams of the industrial age, and I imagine that these things would one day be found only in a museum.
Seeing that this shop was closed made me realize that this center of town still held much of a time gone by. I was seeing the remnants of something that only the oldest of those that are still living might remember—and even before that. I imagined that there was a time when this street would have been undergoing economic growth—a time when it would have seemed younger and fresher. I couldn't help but imagine walking the street with others back in that time, and I couldn't help imagine that during that time of growth there would be such hopes and dreams. It struck me that so many of these dreams might now be forgotten.
It was a powerful thing to feel that sense of a past times when it was fresh and thriving. I could imagine the people, both then and who they've become now—along with what keepsakes they might still have to remember those times. I craved to have some insight into what those hopes and dreams may have actually been, and I kind of mourned the passing of such valuable things. To treasure the hearts and souls of people is to treasure their hopes and dreams. Yes, I understand that it's important to live in the present, but there is no perspective with no memory of the past. And, that's why we devote at least a little time towards reflecting on our ancestors, and this was a time for just that.
Yet, I had this sense of how so many hopes and dreams have slipped into the past—forever lost, and what came to mind was the expression “Box of Forgotten Dreams.” The idea stuck, and it seemed that there should be some way to turn this concept into a vehicle for honoring such hopes and dreams—to honor the spirit of all past dreams and their hopes of the future. And, I wanted the symbolism it should represent to be very palpable and reach into a person's being, touching our deepest sense of our ancestors, community, and future generations—along with all of our hopes and dreams, past, present, and future.
What eventually emerged was this: take a box, sealed except for a slot big enough to accept pieces of paper, and one of some fairly decent materials and construction so that the box will honor the contents within. With it, provide pen and paper. Set it somewhere where it will be accessible to members of a community, a congregation, a museum, or anywhere in which a particular spirit of a culture is honored—even a shop with a spiritual or historical theme. With it, include the following instructions:
As the box fills, it will collect the essence of our reverence for the past and our hopes for the future. Either when the box is full, perhaps to the point were no more slips will fit, or on some designated date, perhaps a special holiday, state how the box will be interred or cremated in a funerary ceremony to honor both our ancestors and their dreams, along with those among us, and those to come—and along with all the connections we share in our common and diverse hopes and dreams.
I have yet to build such a box, even though the two friends I've told of this have encouraged me to do this. Since, here in mid 2018 I'm still only thinking about it, I figured I could at least tell the story. Maybe someone can beat me to it. I'd love to hear if anyone creates one of these, and feel free to cite this article (and/or include attribution).
Peace, Blessings, Insight, and Clarity