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A woman I know was spring cleaning the other day, getting organized and going through some of those pesky boxes we lug to different apartments but never actually open.

She yanked out one tattered tape-covered box and her heart sank a little.

It was the Ex-Box.

No gaming console here – it’s a cardboard carton full of the concrete reminders of how that Ex ripped your heart into tiny bits of cardboard once upon a time.

She didn’t open it, but continued her cleaning efforts. Now, she’s not sure what to do with it.

This box is specific to one Ex, one with whom she had an on-and-off again relationship for a few years. He’s the one she thought she might marry before mid-20s brought about more intelligent decisions and life changes. He’s the one who turned out to be the ultimate tool – a cheater.

She’s left with the life lessons learned, this box of mementos and a dilemma: throw it out or keep it?

She’s older, wiser and lives on Cloud 9 (I think that’s near Chicago in case you’re wondering) with the love of her life. Her point: Why bother keeping this reminder of one’s past when she has her future ahead of her? Throwing out the box could provide the same de-cluttering for her soul that it gives her apartment.
Such cleansing seems like solid wisdom. But I wonder. They say those who can’t recall history are doomed to repeat it. But in the case of our heart’s history, are old photos and scraps of paper necessary to preventing a repeat cycle?

Probably not, but I vote to keep it, even if she never opens it again.

She and her husband will hopefully spend many blissful years together, but we females tend to outlive our husbands. At the end of many long years with that wonderful man, we are still ourselves, individual women, each with our own thoughts, ideas, goals, yearnings – and our past.

Our past is a part of ourselves. Of course, throwing the box away doesn’t mean she could actually throw away the experiences that made her who she is today – the person her boyfriend loves.

But maybe someday, when she is 96 and rocking on some porch someplace, she can dig out that box and remember what it was like to be naive and in her early 20s.

Those photos might spark a smile, a memory of a time when her perspective was different.

That smile and walk down memory lane might be worth more than an X-box’s weight in gold.

When You are Old
by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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