i noticed my special guy doing this thing he does sometimes where he gets all gloomy and glum but pretends nothing is wrong because he doesn’t want to bring anybody else down with him.
so i bugged him about it until he coughed it up and said, “i don’t know - sometimes it just feels like my whole life is confined. like i’m shut up in a box.”
i just raised an eyebrow and said, “really? you’re going to complain to me about being in a box?”
he got all apologetic and started trying to say he was sorry and how of course i have it worse than him on that score and he shouldn’t have picked those words, and i just had to laugh and stop him and say no, i was only joking.
“look, msg,” i told him, “you’ve got it way worse than me and way worse than most people, because your brain is just so good at imagining amazing things. i mean, i’m not saying i’m completely uncreative or anything, but my imagination only goes so far. i can’t dream up anything any better than the times when i’m ‘out of the box.’ life pinches us all in and squeezes us and won’t let us have all the things we want, but for most of us, we know that we do get some semi-regular moments when we’re free, at ease, and able to do what we want. and the rest of the time, we can live by looking forward to those moments. i’m perfectly happy to be shut up in my day-to-day box, because i know that sooner or later i’ll get some more of something that’s better than anything i can imagine - you.”
“well, that’s sweet and i really appreciate it,” he said, “i really, really do. only it also makes me feel guilty, because shouldn’t i be able to say the same thing about you? shouldn’t i be happy in my box knowing that sometimes i’m let out to be with you?”
i patted him on the top of his head. “yeah, probably, except for this giant writer’s brain of yours. you’ve got it trained to spend big chunks of time imagining wonderful things that most people could never dream of. i do watch you and listen to you, you know. your problem is that you can’t shut it off. and that’s great, because if it wasn’t so good at doing what it does, you wouldn’t be able to write the kind of stories you write.”
“but maybe i’d be happier.”
“yeah, and maybe you’d be an accountant,” i said. “i’d probably still love you, only i don’t think you’d be as interesting a person - and more importantly, i don’t know if you’d have the same chance to bring joy into other people’s lives, and i know that matters to you. i mean, come on. you wouldn’t really change the way your brain works if you could, would you?”
he sighed. “no, i guess not.”
“so maybe you just need to work a little harder to remember that i’m here in the box with you - even if sometimes i’m tucked away over in a corner of the box where you can’t see me. and maybe that will help you remember that there’s lots of other great things in the box with you too. and even though most of the time you can imagine things being a lot better than they are, that imagination is a great thing too, and you’re lucky to have it.”
“like i’m lucky to have you,” he said, sounding like he meant it, although he obviously still wasn’t entirely perked up.
“you bet your tootin’ booty,” i said. “now why don’t you come over here and let claire make everything better, hmmm? some boxes are very cozy, you know.”
this line of reasoning pretty quickly convinced him to be in a better mood.
i do have my talents!