Thinking inside the box.

July 13, 2013 § 6 Comments

I live in a box known as a body, but it works like any other box.

It packages what is me, keeping it separate from, say, you.

The box I live in comes equipped with convenient eye holes to peer through.

I can see you over there.

Hey, nice box.

You can never leave your box, I can’t leave mine; and I sometimes wonder, is life inside your box the same as the one I’m living in here?

In the privacy of my box I think thoughts, observe rituals, believe certain things are real and decide that others are not.

Inside my box certain truths are held to be self-evident, but I’d like to know whether these beliefs and customs are strictly local, or whether other box-dwellers have come to the same conclusions.

So, I just have to ask…

Do you open your eyes in the morning and, in that moment, experience the unfettered state of being quite literally outside the box—and then the confinement returns along with all you are and know, all you have to do that day, and the flaps of that box seem suddenly to have been retaped by a UPS clerk guaranteeing this box will go the distance without spontaneously opening?

Do you think inside-the-box would be enhanced if it came with a sound track from outside, one that tipped you off about the prevailing mood in the rest of the world? Some days you would relax and boogie to Chuck Berry knowing all was well. Hearing that Jaws riff would alert you, right?

Do you ever wonder whether the world, having used you up, has peeled out, leaving you, like a Happy Meal carton tossed out a car window?

In the shelter of your box do you think of yourself as kind, caring and generous while hoping that today no one will notice you in that box and will just walk past leaving your self-image untested and intact?

Do you ever envy your dog? The box marked “dog” is a sloppy affair. The being called “dog” slips in and out of the constraints of self just as easily as it slips its collar when it sees a cat at the end of the street.

Do you ever want to flop your box on its side, and roll, box and all, down a long grassy hill? By the time you reached the bottom the four corners would have gone soft and a flap or two would have popped open. Scary, but liberating.

Do you ever feel as if you are playing telephone, your words logical and lucid when you say them, but garbled when they reach the next box?

Are you tired of being judged by the outside of your box, apologizing for its appearance, being embarrassed by it—for Pete sake, it’s just a box! It’s what’s inside that matters.

Oh, that’s right. No one can see what’s inside so they stare at the outside and believe it is you.

Conversely, do you ever say to yourself, hey, look at the box on that one, even though it is just the packaging and anything could be inside?

Do you ever feel as if your box has been addressed to the wrong location? Do you feel, perhaps, with a little more postage you could get to someplace much better?

Alone in your box, have you scribbled rants on the walls,  drawn beautiful pictures, or scrawled hieroglyphics only you can decode, all as a way of keep yourself company or mark the passage of time?

And is it possible that the thing we most dread—our liberation from the box—is what we dream of in the dark of our separate selves?

Maybe that beacon described by those who have come close to death is just the light pouring through the open flaps of a box that has reached its destination.

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§ 6 Responses to Thinking inside the box.

  • craig reeder says:

    “the light pouring through the open flaps of a box that has reached its destination”…. a beautiful and liberating thought reminiscent of the words of St. Augustine: “I entered and beheld with the eye of my soul, the light unchangeable – not this common light, which shines for all flesh, but different. Nor was it above my soul as the sky is above the earth, but it was above me because it made me, and I was below it because I was made by it. He that knows the truth knows that light, and he that knows it, knows eternity.” There is somewhere hidden in your words, and those of St. Augustine, a great truth.


    • St. Augustine didn’t have as much to work with as I did, the invention of the cardboard box being still some time in the distant future–but he didn’t need anything as prosaic as a box to get his point across. Way to go S.A.!


  • richardn889 says:

    Somebody left my box out in the rain. It’s a mess. Nice post.


  • KM Huber says:

    Such a lovely post, Adrian, and I added it to my growing list of post favorites from you. For me, these are days of working from the inside out. I begin my days from the inside out an am amused at how long it takes me to see with my outside eyes.It begins with my morning meditation, now with eyes open, and only then does today start to come inside.

    I truly admire this post, Adrian.



    • You are getting a rare view due to the constraints of your particular box, but I suspect you are making gains in clarity impossible to those of us who spend our time connecting to all things outside the box. There is something to be said for limits. We look very carefully at what is within reach.


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