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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

In praise of the box

Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009, at 11:58 AM

All over the United States, as people struggle to move forward, struggling to pull themselves out of the economic slump we've experienced, I keep hearing a phrase -- ironically, not a new one, but a catch phrase revived from the 1980s -- "Think outside the box."

But let's face it. Boxes are important, even wonderful. Just ask a child. One box can be a house. A veterinary hospital. A store. A doghouse. A car. A bus. A dinosaur. You get the picture. Two boxes together are even better! They could be a lion's den. A castle. A dragon's lair. A secret passage to another dimension!

I'm sure what they really mean is, "look over what's in your box and figure out what you can adapt that's already in there, or what else you need in your box to make it better." But I guess that would be too long for your average motivational campaign.

We need to look into our boxes first, or when we go "outside the box" we'll come up with all sorts of fun things that won't fit into our the box we have or even the box we want to get at all. We can save time by looking into our box first and making sure we're really aware of what's in there, and that we're using it to its best use, especially when the stuff that's "Outside the box" might be really expensive.

Boxes are tools we use to get almost all of our jobs done. We put our lives into mental compartments, virtual boxes. There's one for home, one for work, one just for the children...

When it's dinner time and I want to make something new, the first place I go is to boxes. One box is the recipe box, whether it's a physical box or the box of cooking knowledge I keep in my head. The other is the pantry. I use what's in these two boxes to create something new and different, usually dubbed in our household, "whatchagot casserole."

Sometimes, I admit, I resort to what's in another, bigger box -- the grocery store. There. I've thought outside my box. I've brought things from another box into my box to make it better. It's not so hard, really, if you think about it.

My husband does the same thing. He likes to fabricate what he needs to fill a specific need with things he already has. He pulls out a box or two, filled with pieces and parts, and figures out new ways to use them. He, too, sometimes goes "outside the box" for supplemental parts he can afford that will make it better.

The point is, the box is important. When you're done with your "thinking outside the box" you're going to need a box to put it all in. Maybe you'll need a bigger box, or a differently shaped box to put it in, but if you don't have a box, all you have is a bunch of pieces lying around, willy-nilly.

You never know how great your box is if you never look inside it, or never take a look around it. Go ahead. Think outside the box. Just don't forget about what's great about your box and all the stuff that's already in it; you might not need to go as far outside your box as you think to find just what you need.

What's in your box?



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Lynn Wade
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Exploring the obvious and the not so obvious in search of the oh, so elusive "something to do' that's all around us.
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