A long time ago, when I wrote here about containers, my true-atheist friend told me she didn’t really understand what I was talking about (her atheism really doesn’t have anything to do with this, but I like referring to her that way – it contains her, so to speak).
In psychotherapy there’s a lot of talk about containing anxiety – you can pour it all into an addiction, for example (and then maybe get anxious about the addiction, but at least you’ve forgotten the original, perhaps existential, source). In group work, the facilitators have to make the psychological environment “safe” for the participants so they don’t freak out if someone expresses a scary emotion (hence my ability not to cry, even if someone else is sobbing).
Recently my daughter, whose job keeps her from visiting us very often, bitterly and justifiably complained about my habit of keeping a book on my lap while talking to her. I wasn’t really reading it, I said, but she was right: I was just like one of those annoying iPhone people whose laps keep calling.
Reading is my container – it’s an escape. It’s also a habit, continued even when I don’t want to escape, like when I’m talking to my daughter.
But one of the best containers in the world for me, and here we get to the prosaic point of this somewhat intellectual discourse, is snow. If I’d grown up on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, maybe I wouldn’t feel this way, but a major snowstorm here is an Event. It’s like getting wrapped in a comforter and ordered to stay home and read.
By now, after wasting an hour and a half last night following a local weatherman’s live chat (he’s as obsessed with snow as I am), I’m at the point of feeling disappointed when they say maybe only 5 inches.
But there’s always a chance the track will move west. It might intensify. The two jet streams might merge. It might be a blizzard.
Ah, yes. I’m so, so contained.