Labels are dangerous things.
On opaque containers filled and sealed they serve an obvious purpose.
On single use cans they’re essential.
Cans are torn open, contents spilled, used, discarded. Can, label, and all.
But on a clear, reusable container, plastic bottles with their utilitarian screw on tops and such, labels outlive their usefulness once they’re emptied.
Yet the container remains useful.
It waits to be filled again.
With things other than the original contents.
And refilled with those other things, the original label becomes a lie.
Worst still, a limitation.
We’re tempted to squander the potential and only reuse the container for one thing.
Some labels can be easily peeled off; shed like dead skin, cast aside like clothes for fresher wares.
But some labels, once applied, can never be removed.
Do we keep using the container?
Do we keep telling the lie?
Or do we toss away the container?
Label and all; despite all it’s potential?
Do we plaster on another label to tell the truth of what’s inside? Is the new label big enough to cover the old one? Is the new truth bigger than the old lie?
And if the new label is big enough to cover the old, can we still see what’s inside?
Emptied and filled again, do we add another label? And another?
Can we still see what’s inside?
Will there come a time when no more labels will fit? When all the labels we’ve plastered on make the container so unwieldy that we can’t stand the sight of it?
And even if we can’t read them anymore, won’t we still know the old labels lie beneath?
Why do we need labels at all?
Without a label, how will we really know what’s inside?
Maybe we’ll just have to find the time to look closer.
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