We are fascinated with boxes. I’m guessing because since we were young our contact with them was through presents. There was excitement in receiving a box. The newness of something was noticed and appreciated.
As we age, you start to hear more people talk about thinking “out of the box”. Isn’t it odd that in the innocense of our childhood, a box represented great joy, excitement, and newness yet as we age a box takes on the meaning of sameness, dullness, and drudgery?
We are told to think out of the box so that we find something, new and fresh and exciting. I will never know why this phrase is so commonly used when the imagery is reversed or counter-intuitive to our experience as children. I’m guessing that is why I find this phrase so meaningless and ineffective.
As adults we become the provider of gifts. There is certainty in a gift we give because we bought it. Is this why people use this imagery of “out of the box”? Because it implies we know what’s inside already so it would be better to look outside?
What’s further absurd is that we don’t buy a toddler a book on chemical reactor design. We buy a gift that will be appropriate for the person. We first think of who the box is for and then adjust what we buy for this person.
Every day, if you give to others freely giving them something that is appropriate for them to receive and use (that would be helpful or effective), then why do you ever have to “think out of the box”? (It’s still absurd thinking because we are the ones “outside of the box”!)
Where we get confused is in the need for “presence” in our lives. Our presence is what brings a connection between ourselves (outside of the box) and what we bring (inside of the box) to any situation. That is what is demanded of us in trying to create our future. Minute by minute. Person by person. Situation by situation. Each one by themselves. Each one unique.
The newness and the excitement of the box comes from being present in the moment to understand objectively the situation and provide something new to the situation that is unique to us. The outcome we desire will constrain us as to our options. And that’s ok. It only adds to our challenge to be more effective.
The risk we face is that our contribution may not result in the outcome we desire. Our hope is in our patience, resilience, and ability to try again. And our humility comes from the understanding that “being present” is the greater gift that is available within all of us, both individually as well as together.