Packing Peanuts

A box is left outside the door. Maybe for me, maybe for Kim, or maybe for one of the girls.

I bring it inside. Oh, it's for me. Cool.

Before I can open it, Maggie is at my side pressing up against me looking to see who it's from, who it's for, and what might be inside.

It's a book. I'm happy and after a glance at the book and an inquisitive look at me for my approval, she's happy.

She can get busy playing with the packing material. If it's the plastic bags or little plastic strips of trapped air she starts popping them. If it's styrofoam peanuts or popcorns, she gets busy breaking them up or moving her hand back and forth through them.

She wanders off back to the computer. I leaf through the book while absent mindedly playing with the packing material left behind.

It's the same when we order something for Maggie. She loves the present we have sent to her, but she always takes the time to play with the packing material.

All that time that I wanted to grow up to be a teacher or a doctor or an astronaut – I should have set my sites on growing up to be styrofoam peanuts. Sure, there's still time. Grad school wasn't a waste – but where do you go to learn how to be packing material.

I want to be the stuff that keeps the important stuff safe and looking good. I want to be the stuff that kids look forward to, no matter what's in the box. I want to be the stuff that you get and could use – if you wanted to – when you send more stuff on to someone else. I want to be able to hang out with my other styrofoam peanut friends adapting to the different shapes and situations.

I want to be there when the shipper carefully packs the gift and sends it off. I want to be inside the box safe while traveling to a place I can't even imagine. Kept in the dark, I'd hear and feel the bumps of the road and the thump of being tossed up onto the loading dock. I'd hear the truck and feel the plane. I'd land safely and be scanned along with my buddies as I rushed to the next distribution point.

Then it will be time for delivery. The final bump as me and my buddies land on a table. Oh the light. After all that time in the dark, I would squint against the oncoming onslaught of daylight as I hear the tape being pulled from the box. For a moment I'm brushed aside as the gift is removed from the box. It's always great to see the look of delight on the recipient's face.

It's been a long trip. I'm feeling a little stiff. Would you mind cracking my back?

A hand reaches into the box and absent minded brushes by me on the way to cracking my neighbor in half. Sounds refreshing – not brutal. Oh good. I'm next. Ahhhhh.

You can study to be a lawyer or a firefighter or whatever. Me, I'm working on becoming a packing peanut. Not literally, of course.

Published in: on March 29, 2006 at 3:16 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this piece of writing…so evocative! You’ve definitely still got it, Daniel :-). I’m reminded of the free verse “mind journeys” I used to make up for my yoga students to listen to during the long prone rest period called Shivasana between the set of exercises and the meditation…the point is painting a vivid word picture the class can follow in their mind with their eyes closed. It helps them leave their physical body so it can fully rest on the mat. Ideally they emerge from the experience refreshed and ready to meditate. Reading about the packing peanuts just made me feel that way. Thanks, Daniel!

    -Danese (who is facing jury duty today…but now with less dread and more equanimity….)

  2. Yesterday as I prepared a package for some friends who recently moved away, I couldn’t help but smile at how the packing peanuts moved around as I put the items in. Your personification of these little things (which I normally hate for environmental reasons) had me thinking of their little broken backs and imagining them xchattering and smiling up at me. I wonder if I’ll ever look at one the same way again.
    As for your lofty goal to be a packing peanut, from your writing, I’d say you’ve achieved that and then some. But instead of being wrapped around a thing, you have wrapped yourself around your family, friends and community, carefully preserving memories and moments, and being an observent and thoughtful traveller along the journey. And through your memories and observations that you share here, you deliver a really special “package” each day.


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