Sometimes the answer is to open the box. It is usually a box you would rather not open. And it is always on a Monday morning when you must open the box. Who makes these rules anyway?

Just open the box!

Just open the box!

On this particular Monday, between 9 and 10 a.m., the mouse stopped working on my computer. At first, I thought my wireless mouse was the culprit, so I unplugged it, determined to move on. But even the internal mouse did not work. This “Welcome to Monday Morning Box” was looking more complicated, and it wasn’t even 11 a.m. yet. The mouse had turned into a dirty rat and my computer was locked up and unusable. Maybe it was a virus. I visualized an electronic version of COVID-19 eating the circuitry. It wasn’t that kind of virus I told myself, so I resisted the urge to wash my hands.

An endless array of deadlines and tasks paraded through my mind: Zoom sessions, emails to answer, bills to be paid, letters to write and a bank balance to check on. I certainly did not want to shop for computers today and open that box. But I had opened the box of the day, which contained another box, and had to peer inside. Later, I found there was nothing wrong with my external mouse. It was the internal mouse, aka “dirty rat.” After hours with a computer expert, ruling out viruses and the common cold, he advised replacing the computer. Another box had to be opened and it didn’t look good. Dirty rat was not going to ruin my week.

Later that week, I got a new computer. I had to consider the bank account box and make choices about virus protection, two-year warranties and try not to be talked into things I did not want by people who were trained to do just that. That box is one you think you have to open. You don’t. The person standing in front of you is trying to convince you another catastrophe is looming if you don’t spend $199.95 on whatever they are selling. This is the fear box. It is the box we are most prone to open, and the one we can set aside. Of course, disaster scenarios start to assail you:  What if I dropped a bowl of ice cream on my new computer? Or someone figures out how to make COVID-19 go digital? I will risk it, I told myself.

After getting the computer home, I stared at the box sitting on the table. Don’t laugh, but I didn’t want to open the box. I started thinking about how hard it was going to be, how frustrated I would become and would eventually eat that bowl of ice cream just for spite. I would end up talking to myself, with only Alexa listening. I walked by the box a dozen times until the next day when it occurred to me, “just open the box.”

It is apparent lots of clever people have thought this through. I found no inch-thick book of instructions in six languages. I only found a drawing on a small slip of paper. It basically showed me how to plug it in. Step two was to turn it on.

Very clever. I was hooked. I went step-by-step, following directions, opening boxes when I didn’t even know I was opening boxes. In an hour, I had the computer installed. I connected it to the printer, the phone, and the iPad, and Alexa hadn’t made a peep.

All I needed to do was open the box. And I hadn’t even thought about that ice cream.

Ann Pike, a 13-year resident of Big Canoe, spins tales from the comforts of her mountain home. She attributes her success to generous friends who support her with encouragement and inspiration. By day, Dr. Pike is a licensed psychologist in Jasper, appreciative of the opportunity to witness all those who triumph over life’s challenges.