Always Check the Basement

creepybasementstairsThere is something in everyone’s basement.

The basement is a place where accumulations of treasures coat themselves with enough dust to make them seem immaterial—dispassionate and discolored. Technology that you were going to repair decades ago has gone obsolete alongside boxes of unsorted photos. Exercise benches languish; spare parts oxidize into the air. The smell over there catches your attention, but for another few weeks might be mild enough to ignore. That’s what the place is for, after all: ignoring.

It’s just a basement. It’s where you ignore colors and treasures.

It’s where you ignore your passions.

Those passions, that you once felt and followed, are now surrounded by cement on all sides and a creaking ceiling above. You had to bury that part of yourself that is so defining; it was too complicated, and you were too busy. The problem with passion, you see, is that it’s personal: far too connected to the person who is passionate to ever be friendly with others. Your passion will simply scare me, or mine will terrify you. Our basements are the safest places for it.

Did you ever notice how the fiercest of humanity won’t check a basement? In every Nazi movie ever filmed, illicit literature or a harbored fugitive would be squirreled away there while the SS pounded on the front door. The oppressed families, craving a future filled with sunshine, would hide their loved one in the only place that sunshine couldn’t reach… as if they knew soldiers were incapable of checking there. As if goose-steps made it too difficult to descend a flight of stairs. Hidden beneath the boards that groaned under their boots were stories that could take apart their very way of thinking. Behind that cellar door were ideas that could change their beliefs.

That’s a scary thought to a lot of people: the thought of changing one’s beliefs. For something so defining to come apart feels like pain. To have it reassembled can feel alien. So this place, where colors hide and ideas conspire, remains deserted and cluttered. Because you hold your beliefs dear, it is a place to avoid.

But for anyone who wants beliefs changed, it is a place to explore.

modern minimalism style stairs with night lightingUnder the dust and haze are stories of the time when that technology was new. Colors, though unseen and hidden, don’t need our eyes to exist; the spectrum in a rainbow is just the same when the rainbow is behind us. The photos don’t need sorting; they just need eyes upon them, and the mind attached will not only sort them, but fill in the parts that are missing until those eyes blur. The spare parts once proved you were clever. The weight-bench once made you strong. Even that scent, if you can stand to find it, belongs to something alive or something that once lived—something with stories of its own.

Your basement is not a place to ignore, after all. It is a place where life has gathered, whispering and pining for the attention that every life deserves. Explore your basement, if you want to know that you’re alive. Share your basement, if you want to change beliefs. Find the treasures that the dust is hiding, and put them out proudly in places where others will wonder.

Write, whenever you can, from your own basement.



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