Thinking Inside the Box
People say the strangest things. Clichés abound. Sometimes I don’t understand them. Like, “thinking outside the box.” That’s supposed to mean the thinker has a fresh perspective, a new take on an old idea.
Here’s the thing. I do not have any fresh ideas. Never have. And I have always, always thought outside the box. In fact, I have never thought inside the box. Well, just once. It was a dream, nightmare really.
Roberta and I were completing one of those grueling family moves. The mover had this huge, huge box. What came in it I will never know. Somehow, my prize sweatshirt found itself in the bottom of that empty box.
I wore that New Mexico State sweatshirt for 25 years. It wasn’t getting away now. Roberta caught me standing on top of a stepladder, leaning into the box, trying to retrieve the prize by hooking it with the handle of a rake.
“Stop it!” she yelled, “You are going to fall into that box!”
“Leave me alone! I am not going to fall into the box!” I barked back at her.
I fell into the box. Just me and my rake. “Say, babe,” I begged, my voice a purring cat, “do you think you could maybe help me get out of this box?”
“You keep doing dumb things even when I warn you,” she said. “Maybe you need to sit in that box and just think a little.”
So there I was. I got to thinking inside the box.
First I thought, “Roberta is kind of mean.” Then, when I heard the car driving away, I thought, “Roberta is really mean.”
Then I thought, “Well, no, Roberta is usually right and I tend to ignore her advice.”
After awhile I thought, “How in the heck am l going to get out of this box?”
Nothing occurred, so my mind went all pet rock until I it dawned on me I was bored. I looked around for something to do. “This box doesn’t seem to need raking,” I thought.
Then, the vague wonder of when Roberta might come home.
Staring at the cardboard wall of the box, the brain shifted to Park. A fence post had more ideas. Slowly, though, a dandelion bloomed in the parched yard. I began to think about things I often wonder about.
Like, I wonder why people so often use the word “amazing.” There was a guy on America’s Got Talent who actually made the semi finals – way to go American culture – by puking. He was a Professional Regurgitator.
Every time he puked, someone like Howie Mandel would scream, “Amazing, absolutely amazing!!” Really? Were I a judge I would likely say, because I am a brilliant inside the box thinker, “Mildly interesting, but totally revolting.”
Sitting inside that box, I got smarter and smarter and decided another word people use way too much is “incredible.” When a football player who is paid $10 million a year to catch a football catches a football it is not “incredible.” It is “expected.”
My mind was getting so tired from all this inside the box thinking I was relieved to hear the car come up the driveway. “Hi honey,” I offered timidly, “I have been thinking and thinking about how I should pay more attention to your advice. Do you think you could get me out of the box now?” She did.
Turns out, some of my most amazing – no, incredible! -- thinking occurs when I am inside the box. I wrote this outside the box. You could probably tell.