That things must be contained is a sign of their inherent instability. As Yeats observed some time ago, life is predisposed to “come undone.” Undone, unbuttoned, discarded, that’s just how it is, despite of our best efforts at practicality.

Bags, baskets and boxes are filled only to be emptied of their contents. Lids, seals, screw tops of varying ingenuity will unfailingly fail. Even the body, perhaps the most ingenious of all containers, is not impregnable. Once the spirit is called, it will leave its shell vacant, adding it to the piles of waste left behind. That things are intended to unravel, that our best adhesives and latches will prove inadequate to the job, should, in no way discourage our desire to contain them.

I’ve a 50-years-old penny in my wallet. Although minted the year I was born, there is no reason to believe it won’t outlive me. I may lose it before I myself am lost, or it may be recalled in a great government-sponsored copper drive, but I prefer to think that it will survive at least as long as the 2,000-year old Roman coin I also keep in my wallet for luck. What is certain is that while the penny will likely remain physically intact, it is just as likely that its original meaning will be lost. Which is, of course, just another way of saying, this penny will be pitched.

Yes, every treasure, including those hearts we cherish, will be dust and so swept up and removed somewhere. Boredom, global warming, a collision with an asteroid, these and 10,000 other fingers will empty even our most clever containers. Which is as it should be. A match unlit is worthless. A toothbrush sealed in its plastic sheath will not fight a single cavity.


Giovanni’s daughter Sophia is allowed to run freely through Bar Pitti. She visits the regular customers who all adore her and makes new friends as she dashes table to table. She does not appear to be contained until her mother calls out, “Sophia eat something. Sophia, come eat your macaroni.” So, I see, I am mistaken; she is contained, even if by something as elastic as a mother’s love.


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