October 27, 2019

What’s With The Lunchboxes?

Yesterday, I had a work appointment.  I had met the couple at a community meeting I presented at.  The wife had sent me an email asking that I meet at their office.  They run security together at a local place of learning.  I enjoyed both of them in my meeting, and I looked forward to the appointment. 

It is always the greatest joy to know you have an hour or two with people who are engaged, smart, sassy and kind, and it is your “job” to spend time with them.  I know I will learn something fantastic and maybe something tragic, and possibly just soak in the joy that is meeting and interacting with people you feel comfortable around. 

Yes, insurance.  I still sell Medicare insurance.  I don’t sell sunshine, but it come with the job here in Arizona.

I met the wife at the front desk, and she welcomed me warmly.  Her voice was kind and soft.  She looked intently as she spoke to me, and she was purposeful.  I love people who stand strong in their bodies and meet me face to face, not showing power or submission, just being who they are openly and bravely.  It means we will have equal interaction. 

She speaks for a few moments and then takes me back to her husband’s office.  And his warm, loving smile lights up the room.  You feel immediately seen and acknowledged when he says hello to you.  The two of them respect each other with their words and body language.  And they clearly aren’t just security guards.  They have owned their own security company for over 20 years.  And they may have other cool investigative skills I can’t talk about here.  So fun!  I am digging it and wondering if I should ask more questions.  And my curious mind is buzzing about.  I am used to reading people and places and feelings and power and kindness and openness and storylines. 

So I ask the question, “Where did you get all those lunchboxes?”  And as if I know how completely unoriginal I have been asking that question, I follow with, “Does everyone ask that?”  I am not apologizing for being unoriginal.  I had to ask.  There were two bookcases ten feet high, filled with a sundry assortment of metal lunchboxes, 50 or 60?  Maybe that many, with no apparent theme. 

If you’re like me, I am already guessing the answer.  It won’t be terribly interesting, but I have to know.  And he is so kind and has that storyteller way about him, like he knows everyone loves him, and he loves them back.  So communication and stories and questions are just part of any hour of his day.  And he doesn’t think twice.  I sense nothing but fluidity as he tells me the story.

“One day a young lady came in with this lunch box right here.”  He points to it.  (It had Raggedy Ann on it if I remember correctly.)  “And she told me her grandmother said to give it to me.” 

The gentleman said he was ready to pretend he knew the grandmother, but then he thought quickly in his head.  His job is to meet people, and this isn’t the first time someone hasn’t come to mind.  He said..  “Do I know your grandmother?”

The girl replied that her grandmother had passed away. 

The girl said she had died, but the grandmother wanted him to have it.  So she brought it to him.  He thanked her kindly and put it on the shelf. 

Since then, one person would ask about the lunch box, and then another and then someone would bring a lunch box and then someone else.  So of the 60 lunchboxes on the book shelves, which slowly replaced the books, he had bought 13 or 14, he said. 

There was the one from Kansas that a man on staff had brought to him and the one from the young girl who came by and pulled “the smallest lunch box in the world” out and handed it him.  On and on.

I stopped him.  “So who was the grandmother with the first lunch box?”

“I don’t know,” he said.  He had never figured out who she was

It’s funny.  It’s wow.  It’s a lesson.  Because everything is.  And I am getting emotional.  I know, they’re lunchboxes, right?!  We don’t get enough of those being showcased! 

No.  It’s just that here is this entire wall of seemingly unimportant and inanimate objects.  When I walked in, they made me smile.  And they started a conversation.  And have brought people together and continue to grow and create connection over the years until an entire wall speaks of memories. 

I felt like it was a metaphor for something simple.

We don’t have to be someone’s best friend or a philosopher or a doctor.  We don’t have to give large gifts, meaningful gifts, expensive or even useful gifts. 

Here is a room full of stories and connections because a young lady gave a lunch box her grandmother said to give this man? 

What if just doing random things always builds upon itself?  What if compliments that can’t be seen pile up in your office when you smile, even at strangers?  What if love envelops your being and grows there, because you took a second to do something, anything?  What if these lunch boxes show us how powerful little things, meaningless things, silly things bring us together?  What if they are a physical representation of how a lifetime can be built with beautiful moments and connections like that, of varying shapes and sizes and places, from people we do and do not know?  What if every little thing has that much potential to build upon? 

And counteractively, doesn’t every negative thing also have that much power, that much of a legacy to build?

Well yes. 

Or maybe they are just a bookcase full of lunch boxes that no one will ever use, and it’s a waste of money and time?  And no one even knows who started it? 

Well, I guess that’s what it is precisely, if that’s what you see.

It’s truly what you see.  So I told him I had to write about it because it was an amazing story.  And I sent him a lunch box that says, “Unicorn Believers Club”.  That’s what I think.  I think he’s a unicorn.  I think the lunch boxes show what one person can create with their own magic, their own love, their own light.  And others might create nothing.  Or throw it away.  And years later, well, years later, one would have whatever they put into it, whatever they were open to, whatever they perceived. 

So, that’s it.  I hope you find your life stacked with many lunchboxes or laughter or memories from many people, close and far, random and purposed.  I hope you believe in unicorns.  And I hope you see beauty in everything, but if you don’t, well, I know your bookshelves only have books, not magical books. There is no beauty.  There is no story to build on.  And well, I am going to ask someone to give you a lunch box too.  What will you do?

Love to you today,