When faced with a problem or situation I’m trying to find my way through, I like to challenge the statement, “Think outside the box,” by reframing it to, “Create as if there is no box.”
If there is no box, what could you do?
We live in a world of invisible assumptions that become ‘the box’ that defines us. It is the container in which we live our lives, see the world around us and call, reality, when in actual fact, reality is just the story we’ve constructed to give meaning, sense, context to the box.
For those of us who identify as female, depending upon our age, there are many invisible assumptions that create the boundaries of our box. ‘Women are caregivers.’Women are emotional. Women are the weaker sex….’ In some cultures, past and present, the box is/was constructed of statements such as, “Women don’t vote. Women don’t own property. Women do not have a voice. Women don’t go to school.”
Today, as gender becomes more fluid and more and more voices are pushing against limiting beliefs and practices that would have them fit into a box that is foreign to them, the box that makes up our perceived reality can feel more strained as those who care deeply about the walls that hold their box in place, fight back to keep their walls from crumbling.
It isn’t that they’re wrong/Others are right. It is a pushing out of the walls that can feel more constricting to others than those whose box is different or does not fit social norms of the day.
We are all human. We all live in a box constructed of social norms that are inculcated into our psyche and beings through our mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers and so on and so on. These boxes and the societies that constructed them have defined what it means to be human, and in my case, a woman.
It isn’t wrong. It isn’t right.
It is what we, the humans who make up the society in which we live have created, and work hard to keep in place in defense of ‘order’ and the ways we think things need to be. We are all participants in and of the evolution of that society and the box that holds it in place. It’s just some of us are at the edges pushing out, while others are in the middle pulling in and away from the edges.
Which brings me back to the statement, “There is no box.”
In actuality, when I challenge myself with the statement, “There is no box.” I am challenging my perceived reality of what it means to be human.
And that can feel scary. From the moment we are born, everything we do, say and believe is modelled on the world around us. That is our box.
And because it’s our box, the box becomes the framework of our life story.
And because my box is my life story that keeps me fitting in within the society in which I live, challenging it leaves me feeling vulnerable, unsettled and disconnected from myself.
Breaking free of the box that has become my life story is a journey into self.
It is not a head game. It is a whole body experience.
And that is where the challenge arises. My box is built on the necessity that to keep ‘the box’ intact, we must be a head strong culture. Conditioned through the generations to believe what we think is reality; we cannot see that what we think is reality is actually a story constructed to keep us feeling safe, secure and happy in our box.
Activating my body knowing, getting into my body to be within the world around me, requires unravelling of centuries of conditioning that have evolved into my believing today, my reality is constructed of what I think.
Reality is not what I think.
It’s what I experience when I am grounded within all of nature. When I experience my body as part of the universe, as the birdsong being as integral to this moment as the coyote sitting at my back fence or the river flowing past, I become an active participant within all of nature’s unfolding, Embodied in the world within and around me, I step away from head strong manipulations of reality, to being one with the reality of this moment right now.
In that place, my story falls away and I know peace. I am it.
And then I laugh.
If there is no box, why does my head hurt so much?
If you managed to read through this, I should let you know, these are my musings, my wandering thoughts, my free fall writing this morning. I am exploring what it means to imagine and live as if ‘there is no box’.
It is a fascinating proposition. I’d love to hear what you feel and perceive. Can you hear your body talking. Does your head want to have its say?
And I smile again. And breathe with my belly expanding out and in. Ahhhh…..
A great piece of writing – perhaps an ‘out of box’ experience.
When Louise was made, they threw away the box.
p.s. that piece needs only one thing, in my view, a piece of art paired with it; could you draw that?
I’m thinking about ar this morning – I read a piece by Nishant Jain – a recovering engineer who is clever with a fountain pen; he does little drawings. I read his description and saw his drawing of; people lined up, awaiting the start of the Vancouver marathon. It struck me as a clever drawing but far eclipsed by his words. I read that piece and then wrote to him. And, moments later, I read yours. These might not connect for others – but that is how they connected for me:
In response to Nishant Jain’s piece:
190. All the tiny stories you wrote.
[ https://sneakyart.substack.com/p/190 ]
Nishant, Your art is clever and unique. And your words are better. I love your description of standing there at the starting line for the marathon – someone reading that could be anywhere, have never seen a race, or never have been to Vancouver, yet through your words; they were there. I am amazed when I see that quality in someone’s work. Early on in my writing life, my daughter gave me a book on writing that Pierre Burton wrote. He included a bit he wrote about Whitehorse, his hometown; they left an image in my mind that is better than a photograph. I’m confident, if I ever get to Whitehorse, that I’ll be disappointed because the reality will likely not live up to the image in my mind – and the image created by Pierre. As I read your words and look at your drawing, I have a similar feeling. I’ve been to Vancouver many times, been where you were, but nothing about hearing the noise of gulls and traffic, boats and chatter can equal the clarity of your words. I’m not a runner, but your words inspire me to try. Cheers, Mark
Thank you Mark! Your words make me want to dance like Shania Twain’s anthem song which I heard last night — Feel Like a Woman.
I checked out his website — very clever! Love his little drawings.
I didn’t subscribe as I have enough subscriptions I pay for and don’t read often enough – but I will follow his blog.
I love his concept of tiny drawings in the moment.
Thank you for the inspiration my friend!
“Breaking free of the box that has become my life story is a journey into self”. Louise, this is such a beautifully constructed and inviting (inviting to think and challenge one’s beliefs) statement.
So nicely written.