While at the British Museum recently, I was looking at a particularly beautiful sarcophagus made by an Egyptian priest for himself. The box was decorated and inscribed by “coffin texts” or spells that would assist him in his passage to the afterlife. After spending a considerable amount of time looking at these strange and foreign inscriptions, painted designs and pictures on all sides, and sculptures and containers associated with it, I wondered what it would be like to create my own box. I am not a priest, but certainly am a person with a life that has been full of inspirations, texts, art and so on that might be interesting to have as a record of my life. Really, the more I thought about and think about it now, the more wonderful the idea seems. It could also be a beautiful art project in and of itself, done over many months (maybe years!) that could represent my life including the people and experiences I have had…so why not?
I tested the idea on my adult children, friends and colleagues. Some thought I was a little crazy (feeling alarmed by the idea of me building my own coffin) and others were really keen on the idea. On the negative side, people had a hard time getting past the idea of the coffin and its more morbid or frightening associations with death (and my death in particular). They really could not see the box as a celebration of my life. On the positive side, one person suggested that I record the process, and another suggested an “unveiling” party once it was done. Some people were so enthusiastic that they were giving me ideas about what I should include and how I should do it.
Taking into consideration the negative reactions, the key question for me is how to name it or frame it so that it can be seen by people as a positive project that can be put to good use someday in the future. In discussing my observations about people’s reactions with my son (including his own), he suggested I call it a “Life Box” and I like this idea. So, all negativity aside I have launched into building a Life Box with increased enthusiasm and a head/heart full of ideas and possibilities. This blog will be a record of my progress and the experience of putting it together as I move towards its eventual use.