"Your memory is a monster; you forget— it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!" - John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
By the time you reach a certain age you will have accumulated over years of memories in the form of letters, photographs, VCR tapes, 8 mm film, discs, sound recordings, and tchotchkes. You box them up and shove it your closet, garage, or attic where they seem to grow in the dark. But these memories are not going away. You can try to bury them, but do you really want to? After all, why did you save them in the first place?
The Monster-in-a -Box Workshop (MBW) addresses some of the issues, questions, logistics, mental hurdles, strategies and ultimately the joys and satisfaction of taming that monster-a-box.
You'd be surprised how reviewing and organizing these materials into something more coherent will take a load of your mind. Another benefit is the library mantra "that a weeded collection is a used collection." In other words, once you have reviewed these materials, you can throw some things out (more duplicates than you realize) and organize the rest into something more coherent.
The end results:
- Less space required for the Monster in a Box*.
- You can actually find things you want to share.
- You can share these things more easily.
- When (not if) you die you will save your loved ones from this task (assuming they are willing to even do it).
- You control your own narrative (which is a very popular thing to do).
- While curating these memories, you may learn more about yourself.
Murray Browne, author of A Father's Letters: Connecting Past to Present facilitates the workshop, which he operates much like he does his pop-up book shop Destination Books. A couple of tables of materials and resources will be set up which you can browse through your leisure and ask questions. You may even meet like-minded individuals but do not be surprised there will be a sharing of Monster stories.
MBW is free but A Father's Letters books, which covers some of the topics in the workshop will available for purchase ($10).
* The idea for Monster in a Box is also an homage to writer-performance artist Spalding Gray (1941-2004) and his book Monster in a Box and the short film by the same name. Gray's monster is about his personal odyssey of trying to finish his 700-page manuscript.