The “Outside the Box” Concept

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of April 15th)

What if there is no box?

Saying that one needs to think outside the box defines there needs to be some boundaries that make up the box in the first place. And if there are lines, and boundaries exactly what are they? Also who says there is a box to begin with?

In the movie The Matrix (Warner Bros. 1999) there is a very insightful scene where the main character goes to see someone known as the Oracle. In this scene there is a room full of gifted clairvoyant children where he is mesmerized with one of the children bending a spoon at will using nothing more than his mind. Then the child asks if he would like to give it a try. Reluctantly he takes the spoon and is hesitant in believing he could do the same. The child instructs him that trying to bend a spoon using ones mind is ridiculous. The way to actually do that is not to think on how to bend it, but to come from the understanding that there is no spoon. I contend the so-called “Thinking outside the box” concept is very similar, only we don’t see it as such.

What if there actually is no “box?” What if the lines or boundaries we dream up as obstacles, constraints, et al, are merely figments of our imaginations?  All the walls self-imposed as to give form or shape to fit either our own perceptions or the perceptions others tell us. Just how far would you let your creativity run or what projects would you launch if there was no “box” to restrain you in the first place?

If there’s no “box” then there are no boundaries or constraints to overcome or measure against correct? Only the ones you imagine to be there. Just as bending a spoon with your mind seems impossible, if there’s really no spoon just a representation of one you create in your own mind, then not only could you bend it, you could turn it into some other flat ware at will. So why must there be a “box” at all? Maybe there isn’t.

Some use the concept of thinking outside the box in order to enlarge the box. Others use it to open possibilities of making life inside the box more tolerable. While many use the concept as a representation for why they can’t get outside the box at all.

The key in overcoming fears, creativity blocks, excuses, procrastination, and the myriad of other terms we use to justify why we are thinking on one side of the box or another is to be fully aware that the so-called “box” might be nothing more than a figment of our own imaginations.

So if you decide to embrace the concept of there is no box, just imagine how unrestrained you can become in your daring. After all there would be no lines, no boundaries, no walls to constrain your imagination. Would there?

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr