The Metaphor of a Glass Bottle

by John Neel

Bottle – © John Neel

Bottle – © John Neel

 

When I was a kid, the jar played a prominent role in my understanding of the world and the things in it.

 

For me, glass jars and glass bottles were indispensable necessities for many of the activities of my growing up. Mason jars and containers of all kinds were storage places for the things I loved. They were where I kept my souvenirs, my coins, very small toys, and my collections of random bits of this and that.

Mostly, the jar was a makeshift home for walking sticks, June beetles, spiders. crickets, fireflies, bees, tiny fish, snails, frogs and many snakes. Jars were the containers that could easily be transformed into transparent habitats.

Tiny air-holes could be nail-punched into the metal lids to allow an exchange of air, while small sticks and grass supplied a habitat where the captured prey could survive at least a short term of captivity. I once kept a live pygmy rattlesnake in a peanut butter jar right next to my bed for a few weeks.

I could dip a jar into a pond or a creek to capture minute insects, tiny algae, the larvae of dragonflies and mosquitoes. Holding it up to the light of the sun I could discover the murky clusters of living organisms and microscopic creatures. It was a transparent window, in which to examine life. It was a container of life, a portable terrarium that could hold many of the objects of my curiosity. The jar was a means of exploration and discovery. It was a way of holding my world in my hands and filing my curiosity for knowledge. It was a way to fulfill my need to understand the world in which I lived.

I believe it helped me to become more creative.  It gave me the perspective needed to understand the relationships we share with the rest of the life on this planet. It made me more of an environmentalist and I believe it made me a better photographer. I believe it helped me o become a better human being; more compassionate, more spiritual, more humbled.

What on Earth is so significant about a simple jar? What does a jar have to do with anything? In a world as fragile as the one we are on, a container seems an appropriate metaphor for all we have and all we are.

In the scheme of all things, I would say that a jar – like the earth, can represent almost anything and nearly everything worth considering.

 

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