Jim Murdoch's 'Shoeboxes'
One day my father gave me an empty shoebox. “That’s love,” he said and I said, “Thanks, Dad,” and immediately went away to look for secret compartments. Finding none and being unable to decipher anything significant in the writing on the box I soon lost interest and eventually filled the thing with bric-a-brac I found I couldn’t bear to part with.
One day my father asked, “Where's the love I gave you?” Being an honest child I gave him an honest answer. At that exact moment in time I had lost track of its specific location. (Afterwards I found it under my bed.)
“What did you do with it?” he also wanted to know. This time my answer was both honest and accurate.
“I see,” he said and then he said, “Love is not a very effective tool you know – you can’t build bridges with it,” (and then he smiled) “well, maybe you can – but it’s nice to hold and good for holding things. Shoeboxes are just like that. I’ve never met a shoebox I didn’t like the feel of and that I couldn’t do something with.”
When he died a few years later we discovered one hundred and seventy-three shoeboxes in a cupboard in his bedroom, all empty. And that made me very sad, very sad indeed.
*Jim Murdoch is a Scottish writer and shoebox collector. He has a cockatiel whose entire existence revolves around pecking holes in Jim’s shoeboxes. Amazon boxes are good too. You can read more about Jim at his blog The Truth about Lies