Once upon a time, there was a wicked witch who liked to use the phrase 'think outside the box' like a barbed whip on anyone who didn't think the way she thought. The way she used it was an attempt to make you feel ashamed of being so gauche in her eyes that you would capitulate. It usually worked for her, too, until she turned it on my husband and he blew her off. I wish I'd been there to see it. I fully imagine her disintegrating, screaming "What a world, what a world..."
As such, the phrase has become more a joke in our house than a useful reminder. After all, I think we're both old hands at thinking outside the boxes society has tried to pack us into.
Not that there haven't been times when I snuggled down within the comforting confines of a box. Most of the time, I was unaware I even had a cube of corrugated paper around me.
Take my road to publication. I walked into it with the idea that I would... I don't know... take the world by storm? :shrug: I read everything I could to make sure I did it right - and everything I read told me I'd better make sure I did it right, or else. OR ELSE. So, I sat myself right down and began constructing the box around me.
They made it seem like I would never succeed without the box. Well, I don't know if my box is flawed or I didn't build it right or they wanted it pink instead of cardboard brown... But the box hasn't worked for me. This box that I never really wanted but that now I'm afraid to claw my way out of.
But fear or not, I'm trying to shred the box. The way Hubs tore up every box we had after we moved here because we are never moving again. Rip 'em up, throw 'em out.
An unfortunate side effect of this effort to shred the box is it makes me a little irritated with the box keepers and the box builders. Some days I just want to poke them in the eyes. Them with their little rules about this and their cautions about that, and their 'the box-building rules don't apply to me because my box is different from your box'. Bleh.
Don't get me wrong. I know there are certain rules in place for a reason. Grammar rules, for instance. (Although, those are made to be broken sometimes as well.) Social rules - like where it's generally frowned upon to piss in someone else's metaphorical swimming pool. Laws. Those things are in place to keep us from infringing on other people. I get that. I'm a happy law-follower there. (Okay, I occasionally go five over the speed limit, but that's the extent of my lawlessness.)
The point is, I can follow those without being trapped in a box. Also, submission guidelines are rules you have to follow if you want to have a part in the game. Well, I've followed those for years and it's gotten me nowhere, but I'll still follow them.
And fuck, there I am, rebuilding my box...
Years of living inside a box makes it so much easier to rebuild than to tear apart. Pretty pretty cardboard and shiny shiny tape.
Sorry for the rambling... Still, all of this brings to mind a story my Hubs likes to tell. Something about a rat in a rice paper maze. Running and running looking for a way out, never realizing that all he has to do to be free is to break down the flimsy walls around him.
All this is - all this ever was - is a rice paper box. Time to break free.