Old Friends, New Feels, and The Pandora’s Box Of The Soul
We change as we age, becoming more and more of a collage of experiences, traumas, and education while retaining and applying a multitude of things we learned that we didn’t know we learned. Even if it’s all falsehoods and indoctrination, we continue to be shaped and molded by it even if we know it’s bullshit. In our best moments, we strive to challenge our ideas about ourselves and the world, and with every powerful breakthrough we are changed into a completely different individual than we were before. It’s like inside each of us is a tiny Pandora’s Box that houses the the “real us,” hidden under the evils of the world.
Each significant moment of our lives, each new friendship or romance, each challenge met or tragically failed, our inner Pandora opens the box a little more, each time flooding us with new emotions and a new point of view. We change, and try as we might, an expanded mind can never return to its original state. Letters can never return to oddly arranged squiggles once we learn how to read. Songs you love will never sound unfamiliar. Ignorance isn’t bliss so much as a reservoir of potential energy. The more the Pandora’s Box of the soul is opened the more we we change, and just like the ancient tale, once the box is opened things can never go back to the way they were before.
Pandora’s Box is essentially the Greek mythological version of the tale of Adam and Eve. In the original tale, Pandora was created as the first human and eventually married off to a god. Zeus being Zeus, he gave the newlyweds a wedding gift in the form of a box (more like a jar) and told them not to open it. Since no one likes having unopened god boxes in their house, one day when she was alone, Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her and she took a look in the box. As she did, out came all of the evils of the world – the pain, greed, disease, and more. Pandora struggled to close the box, but it was too late. The bad seeds were out and man would have to struggle with them forevermore. Fortunately, after all the evils there was one thing left, the aspect of Hope; that only thing that made such evils bearable.
Friendship vs Growth
When you get down to it, most of us don’t actually choose our friends any more than we choose our parents. Pretty much everything about childhood is simple proximity. We become friends with whomever lives in our town, on our street, who share classes, or participate in the same activities we do; activities typically chosen by parents we drew in the sperm lottery.
As we age, some bonds strengthen while others wither. These bonds pry our inner Pandora’s Box if we’re lucky. Just as often, we learn lessons that pile on bag after bag, placing the box and its contents inside some dark forgotten closet. Baggage filled with the evils of the world such as conformity, fear, and bigotry. We learn to hide what’s real. We place acceptance over happiness. We want to keep those bonds, even when they restrain us. We care more about what our friends think about us than what we think about them. We feel an obligation to carry more bags, even though Erykah Badu tells us to “pack light.”
Still, through all trouble and danger, we can learn of the “real us” eventually. We continue to learn more even when we don’t want to. Pandora digs through that cluttered closet for that box, breaking bonds and letting go of the baggage. Then it clicks. Our box opens enough and we can suddenly see how much of our lives have been lived on autopilot. That’s when our own evils come out. The discomfort of being wrong. The realization of personal weakness. The honesty and subsequent of every time we succumbed to crippling fear. We take stock of our life, our town, our friends, and ourselves then ask, “Do I even like any these people?”
Humanity is a paradox. We we never stay the same, yet actively resist change. We struggle for permanence in a world that has only ever promised the opposite. It’s not just in the physical nature of reality, but also the systems that govern us and everything that exists inside of us. Our understanding of the world and relationship with it are always in flux. From year to day to hour to minute, the fact of the matter is that we are going to change. Our Pandora’s Box is going to continue pushing itself open no matter how much we repress it. We can help it open or we can fight it for every inch. We can use our energy outwardly to become who we really are, or we can use our energy to battle with ourselves in a way that makes us angry, tired, and sick.
When your mind and heart expand, you are no longer the same person you were before. You can’t go back to that person no matter how much your old friends and family might want you to. The box only opens one way. Everything else is lies, and therein lies the “evils of the world.” Suddenly, you are disagreeable where you once easy going. You are disinterested where you were once “down for whatever.” You are “stuck up” because you now demand more out of life.
What if inside of us, covered up by all the insecurity, negativity, and “evil,” is the very best part of us? It’s the us that is impervious to ridicule and fear. The us that embraces change as a birthright rather than an enemy. It’s the version of ourselves that can ask for what it wants, argue responsibly, handle dissenting opinions, set boundaries, and remain willing to lose friends and even family if those boundaries cannot be respected.
In allowing the real us see daylight and breathe free air, we accept ourselves as we are and allow the world to make its own conclusions. How good would it feel to allow ourselves to experience all the freedom that comes with hiding nothing or to understand that we choose who to love? How good would it feel to decide what work is important to us? As the Pandora’s Box inside us opens, we become our own ray of hope and embrace the fact that enlightenment, like time only flows one way.