Pandora's Box

I have what I call my own "Pandora's Box." A mental box, I imagine it to be an 11 by eight inches by eight inches deep black leather-bound box, with an embossed design on the lid. I've never taken a "close look" at the embossed design; I haven't wanted to, but instinctively I know it's a face. The face of either Anger or Hurt. The gold latch is a simple one, like you see on suitcases.

Make a Pandora's Box

At school I used shoe boxes a lot. Students covered them with images that resonated and then stored all sorts of things inside. We sometimes called them Memory Boxes. These could easily become a Pandora's Box - a place to store those things that really do need to have a lid kept on them.
Heather Blakey


Keeping Pandora's Box by Shiloh Cannon Burn

After the theft of fire from the heavens by the Titan Prometheus, Zeus had every intention of punishing mankind for accepting this gift, which was reserved for the gods themselves. He called on Hepheastus and had him fashion a woman out of marble. Aphrodite posed for the statue to ensure that it would be beautiful. When it was complete, Athena breathed life into the cold marble, making it a living, breathing woman. Zeus presented the woman with a box, and told her that she must never open it, or let anybody else open it no matter what the circumstances were. All of the other gods gave the woman a gift; Aphrodite taught her how to dance without moving her legs, and how to look at a man from across the room without moving her eyes. Athena gave her wisdom above any mortal standards. Apollo taught her how to play various musical instruments, and the Muses taught her how to sing. Hermes filled her mouth with lies, and gave her hands swift enough to steal a necklace from around a woman's neck without her noticing. The last gift was given to her by Hera, and this was curiosity. She was placed down on earth with all of the other mortals, and she was given the name Pandora, which means, "All-gifted."

Pandora was soon married to a man called Epimetheus, who was the brother of Prometheus. He brought her into his home, and there she stayed with him. Epimetheus lived in a small village, and every day the people would dance and sing in the sunshine all day long. Food was provided for them by fig trees, and there was a nearby river for water. At this time, there was no such thing as people dying from old age; they would grow to maturity, and then stop aging all together. There was no sickness, no hunger, no poverty and no misery; their lives on earth were perfect. Pandora lived with these people for several blissful years, but she always remembered the box Zeus had given her sitting in the corner of her home and her explicit instructions never to open it.

Years passed since Pandora's arrival to the village, and she sat up late one night looking at the box. Moonlight poured through the window, setting the box aglow with a dull silvery radiance. It looked ordinary enough; a simple box made of oak with a simple lock on the front, for which she had the key. She was riddled with curiosity, but she just knew that it would be wrong for her to open the box. She picked it up, and carried it out to her garden at the back of the house. She dug a small hole in the center of the garden with her small shovel and placed the box inside. She looked down at it one last time before covering it up with the earth. She then took several large stones, and piled them on top of the disturbed ground. Satisfied, she returned to bed with Epimetheus and fell asleep.

As she slept, she began to have dreams. In her dreams, she would be sitting before the box with the key in her hands. She would carefully insert the key into the keyhole and turn it, smiling as the faint click of the lock echoed through the room. As she opened the lid, she gasped in awe, for the box was filled with the most beautiful gems she had ever seen! These were her gift from Zeus! But why wasn't she supposed to open it? With those jewels, she and Epimetheus could live like a king and queen! She awoke from her sleep and sat up in bed. It was still dark, and Epimetheus was asleep at her side. She got out of bed and ran out to her garden. She threw the stones aside she had set over the hole. Her hands were bruised and bleeding from the rocks by the time she dove into the dirt, but she didn't seem to notice. She dug with her bare hands, wincing in pain as the soil stung her wounds, but she didn't stop until her fingernails scraped the lid of the box. She pulled the box out of the hole onto the earth beside her, and dug furiously through her tunic for the key. She opened the lock and threw the lid open. A thick black smoke flooded out of the box, and into her eyes making her cry out in pain. When her vision had cleared, she looked down to see small demons escaping from the box. They were crawling, running and flying out of the box in all directions, spreading out into the world. She grabbed one of the creatures in one hand and thrust it back into the box. As she did this, it bit her on the hand. She immediately fell ill from the bite and collapsed onto the ground finding enough energy to slam the lid of the box shut before anything else came out. She lay on the ground with the box in her arms panting heavily and retching with the sickness that the demon had given her.

"Please open the lid." A small voice cried.

Pandora lifted up the box and put her eye to the keyhole. She saw a golden light shining within the box and figured it must be where the voice was coming from.

"How can I? Look at the damage I've caused already!" Pandora wheezed.

"Please let me out of the box. I'm not like the others, I can help to alleviate what you have done, to lessen the suffering of mankind." the voice whispered.

With her last bit of strength, Pandora lifted the lid then collapsed back down onto the ground. A small creature appeared before her. It radiated a beautiful golden light and was in the form of a small woman with a pair of gossamer wings fluttering at her shoulders. The being came down to Pandora's face, kissing her lightly on the nose. Pandora's suffering lessened at the sprite's touch, and she suddenly had the strength to sit up.

The being hung in the air before her face, "I am Hope. I am the last of the sprites in the box. Through your curiosity, you managed to release Old Age, Sickness, Plague, Misery, Death, Selfishness, Greed and Ugliness into the world. I am the Hope that will give the strength to mankind to battle these, but that is the best I can do."

Pandora opened her mouth to reply, but Hope was gone. From that day forth, people began to get sick, grow old and die. Such was the punishment of Zeus upon the world for accepting something reserved for the gods and no one else.


Interesting how Hope was in the box with those demons and devils... Really makes me wonder if, in his retribution, Zeus had wisdom enough to know Justice needed tempering by Mercy. Or--if some other god tricked him and gave Hope to the world.

I've mentioned a few times before (here in my journal) I have what I call my own "Pandora's Box." A mental box, I imagine it to be an 11 by eight inches by eight inches deep black leatherbound box, with an embossed design on the lid. I've never taken a "close look" at the embossed design; I haven't wanted to, but instinctively I know it's a face. The face of either Anger or Hurt. The gold latch is a simple one, like you see on suitcases.

Where Pandora's contained the malevolent spirits Zeus used as punishment of mankind, mine holds the pet peeves I have, the injustices I perceive done against me, the ill and hurt feelings I nurse and the minor to moderate annoyances in life that irk me. (The major ones are too big to ignore, like having a burr in your sock or a thorn stuck in your hide.) I have a habit of stuffing these inside and then putting the box away, until something else comes along to mar my contentment. In it goes with the rest, and the box is pushed away again. Out of the foreground, but always present in the back of my mind. This continues for a time, the discontentment, anger and hurt building and growing, filling the box finally to the brim. Inevitably, one thing too many is added to the darkly glowing, pulsating, emotional, living mass and it exceeds the capacity of my box. The lid bursts free from the pressure, and all the negativity I'd shoved away or boxed up erupts out. The more I try keeping the lid tightly shut on these emotions, the more the pressure builds up, and the worse it becomes.

I (and those around me) are left to deal with the consequences.

Depending upon the force and magnitude of eruption (usually in the form of a cleansing crying jag or behaving like a ticked off mother bear), sometimes they're not all that bad. Other times, however, the consequences feel like an eruption that could destroy half an island. Or at least "half an island" in my tiny world. When this happens, people do best to leave me alone until the eruption's over and the "ash and soot" have settled and the air is clear once again.

For the moment. My Pandora's Box, unlike Zeus' tool for punishing mankind which remained empty after Pandora released the demons into the world, is never empty for long. In go the pet peeves again that bother me at the time, the hurt and the anger, the irritants and annoyances, being pushed away till the box can't hold anymore and another eruption blows the lid off and releases the once-contained negativity. Again and again the cycle plays out.

From the time we are children, our parents and teachers tell us not to sweat the small stuff, to let these things roll off our backs like water does a duck's and to never hold a grudge. The Pandora's Box in my life is my effort at trying to do this, applying the logic of once contained and out of sight, out of mind. But as I've said above, though it's contained and pushed away, it's always present in the back of my mind. And it continually fills, inevitably culmininating in an eruption of some kind.

I'm not proud of or happy with the fact I have a "Pandora's Box." I wish I didn't have it, because though I try not to let the small things get to me, its very existence and subsequent eruptions are evidence that I do, on a subconscious or emotional level. I wish I knew how to stop the cycle and find a healthier outlet for my negative emotions. The only positive thing, I guess, it does for me is to get rid of the dark feelings. Once they're free and are spent, that particular set of emotions or stressors are gone. True, more take their place in my black leatherbound box, but once they too are released and spent they are no more. I'm fine again.

It has also been said we shouldn't bottle up our up emotions. For when we keep them all inside, it doesn't do us any good. We stew and fester internally till we literally cause ourselves health problems that could become major. At least my box prevents this from happening. The release comes as an eruption yes, but it comes before it hits the detrimental stage.

I don't know. Perhaps I'll always have this mental receptacle for my negativity. Perhaps it's a coping mechanism I've developed when others aren't there to listen or won't. Perhaps, like Pandora's fabled artifact of old, I too have "a sprite of Hope" with mine. A sprite who dissipates and vanishes the gloom. It seems, like me, it's a contradiction--it being both dark and helpful.