Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't Box Me In

The Family recently spent time with someone that made me think about the boxes we find ourselves in. Different people want us to fit into different size, shape, or types of boxes, but really we are in charge of  that , or at least, we should be.

When I was a kid I know that an empty cardboard box was about one of the best things I could have to play with. I'm pretty sure this holds true for kids today, too.  I know it does with The Girls. The possibilities are endless as to what that box is and what it can be.  Calvin and Hobbes 

I have gone out of my way to bring boxes home for the Girls to play with and the reaction has always been similar: excitement. It's exciting to think about the possibilities of what they can do in the box, what they can put in the box, where they can put the box, and so on. Crayons, markers, tape, scissors, glue and more change those boxes to ANYTHING they want them to be, and I love it.

When we grow up though the box changes. It becomes a metaphor. It changes from what can't it be to what YOU are supposed to be.  Think about it, you probably have a job description. That's a box that you are in. Unfortunately the possibilities are more limited with it than they were when you were a kid. Not always, I know, but a lot of the times they are.

Our lives and how we live them are also Boxes, and most of the time we have complete say as to the size, shape, and type of Box we have. 

Most people respect your Box. You make your choices and you live with them. Everything's all good until someone tries to make you fit into the type of Box they think you should be in, or vice versa.

As I said, we recently spent time with someone who has a very rigid Box. EVERYTHING is where it should be at all times, and if it isn't it get puts there or it Becomes An Issue. He likes to impose his Box on others with little regard to what others' Boxes may be like.  In his mind all Boxes should be the same; there's no need for other sizes, shapes, or types of Boxes. In his mind there are a finite number of Types of Boxes.

We heard several times how someone has a "problem" because he or she didn't fit in a certain Box. This person feels so strongly about this that he gets MAD and cannot discuss why it might be okay for their Box to be different. It's not really up for discussion.   "That's ridiculous." or "That's just sad." were two of the phrases we heard to describe someone else's Box. These weren't people that were trying to force him to accept something else. These people don't know, or care what he does, or what his Box is like, but that's not the way it is with him. This, of course, is wrong, but getting him to see this is futile.

Me, I try to keep my Box as open as the cardboard boxes from my childhood. I don't always succeed. It's flexible so if I push against a wall it bends out. With a really good Box there's a really sturdy foundation that will hold it together even with some pushing.  My Box has gotten broken a few times from pushing on a wall too hard. It has a bunch of tape on it keeping it together, but it's good. I like it.

How about your Box? Do you like yours? Do you think others should have a Box like yours, or are you okay with everybody's Box being different?

The Girls often have different ideas of what the cardboard boxes I bring home will be, and sometimes those ideas change rapidly over the course of a couple of days. A lot of times they're different from what I think the boxes could be, but that's what's great about cardboard boxes. 

What their Box will be like as they get older is similar; it is a limitless possibility and it may not always be what I think it could, or should be. My job is to try to make sure that their foundation is strong enough to allow the walls to bend out far enough without breaking.  Or at least provide them with a good roll of tape.

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