Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who don’t fit into boxes. —Tori Amos
I, personally, don’t use mobile apps like Timehop, but I’ve plenty of friends that do. Yesterday, one reposted a quote of mine that had particularly inspired them. At first, I was flattered, but then I felt the conviction of my own words. The quote was from five years ago. Here it is:
Boxes are good for capturing the status quo, for preserving things that might one day be worth putting in a museum if only for the purpose of reminding us how narrow our thinking was in the past. They give us a place to put the things with which we have become bored, those things that might have amused us yesterday but now seem cliché and stagnant. Boxes hide what deserves to be hidden because, like Sinatra sang, “regrets, I’ve had a few.”
Boxes have their purpose, but none of them involve crawling inside and keeping ourselves contained. Yet, that is exactly what we are inclined to do, and one of the reasons that I found this quote so convicting is that I have not stayed true to my own words. I let the opinions of others keep me in a box that I have no business occupying. If I am to thrive, if I am to be at my creative best, then I have to not only step out of those boxes, I have to completely destroy them, shatter their walls, decimate their covers, so that I can never return.
Boxes are restricting, and I have always disliked restrictions. I dislike anyone telling me that I can’t do something. I also dislike limitations, though more frequently than not there is little I can do about them. If I had my way, 3D or virtual reality imaging would be much more advanced than current technology allows. My mind wants to capture images with depth and be able to manipulate the aspects of that depth in a creative fashion. I want to explore what I dream, to create from my imagination. Limitations are probably the most difficult box from which to break free, but even attempting to throw off those limitations is better than letting them keep one tied down.
If we are in a box, any box, we cannot fulfill our potential because potential exceeds the bounds of any container. We all have the potential to be something far greater than our current selves can imagine and there’s absolutely no chance of finding out what that is if we fail to ever leave our box.
I am happy that the weather is warming up, that an early spring may be on the horizon. With the fall/winter fashion season ending today, I have more time to explore, to get out and walk, or take a bus, and spend time finding things that are new and different. A lot has changed around town during the winter and I’m anxious to get out and explore. Getting out of the house is getting out of a literal box.
Beyond such physical acts of exploration, though, breaking down the boxes in our minds may be even more challenging. We have this habit of compartmentalizing our thoughts, which serves an important purpose in helping us keep things organized so that we’re not overwhelmed. That compartmentalization fails us, though, when we begin to think that the boxes into which we have put things are the only places those things should be.
One of the best tools, for me, is radio. Radio works specifically because, unlike almost everything else around me, it is not inherently interactive. Yes, I choose the station and I choose when and where I want to listen, but once I’ve made those choices what comes next is out of my control and sometimes that’s a good thing. When I’m not in control, I am open to new ideas, new concepts, and new music that I might not have chosen in a fully interactive environment.
I especially find TED Radio effective at helping me shatter the walls of my boxes. If I could multitask at an endless level, I would have an eye and ear on TED talks all day long, but that’s not possible. TED radio, which is based on TED talks but not merely an audio rehash, is much more suited to my current needs. I can listen to TED radio while editing, or writing, or most anything else.
The Moth Radio Hour is also especially effective at getting my imagination going. Hearing other people tell stories, often stories of them breaking free of their own boxes in one form or another, sparks my imagination and gets me thinking in directions I’d not previously considered.
There are a lot of things we can do to help our mind break down some of the boxes that are holding us back. Ultimately, though, as with everything else, thinking is not enough, we must do something. So, here is my commitment to return to that habit of shattering boxes, taking and processing pictures in different ways, looking at situations and writing articles from a different perspective, and not giving a damn about convention or the status quo in the process. Some of you may not like what I do, but consider the possibility that even that is good. Maybe I’ll, at least, poke holes in some of your boxes in the process.