The Box

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on April 21, 2011

The Box

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.” Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look at it, and yep, they’re still there. – Erma Bombeck

I don’t exactly remember when I came to be inside a box.  But there I was nonetheless.  It was a typical box as you would imagine a box to be.  It had 4 sides, a bottom and a top.  I spent all of my time in the box.

For a time I was OK with living in the box.  It was comfortable.  The walls and top lent a feeling of protection and security.  I could only imagine the atrocities of the world my box protected me from.  Each day my mind was filled with all the things that could happen to me without the protection of my box.

But one day I noticed some writing and images on the walls.  I couldn’t understand them at first and yet they seemed familiar.  But as quickly as they appeared they were crossed out as if they were some obscene graffiti.  Sometimes they would reappear after a few hours and other times it wasn’t for weeks or months.

But as time went by they became more frequent and were removed less frequently.  As I studied them I became more intrigued about what they were telling me.  I began to wonder what was outside of this box I lived in.  Was the world really as bad and dangerous as I thought it was?

One day the top blew off the box and I could look up and see the sky.  It was this deep blue color with an occasional puffy white cloud floating by.  All day long I stared up at it.  As light began to be replaced by dark and day morphed into night I admired the millions of stars that twinkled down at me lying in my box.  I wondered if there was anyone else out there looking up at the stars from inside a box.

As I drifted off into the land of sleep I dreamed for the first time.  I dreamed of life outside my box.  I dreamed of all the places I would go.  I dreamed of interesting people I would meet.  I dreamed of mountains and canyons I would explore.  I dreamed of forests of trees I would run through.  I dreamed of ocean waves I would swim under.  I dreamed of an exciting world outside the walls of my box.

I awoke the next morning with the memories of the dream still fresh in my mind.  As I looked around my box I saw the walls covered with images.  I looked closely at them and realized they were all of my dreams.  These were my desires and hopes stamped upon the walls of my box.  Some were displayed in bright vivid color; others were faded like an old newspaper; and still others were hard to make out at all.

The days passed slowly and I spent my time looking at the sky above and studying the images of my dreams pasted all over the walls.  The more I thought about them the more depressed I became knowing that I was stuck in this box.  I began to form the beginning of a plan to escape. 

No!  This box would not hold me forever!  I would break free of the confines of this box and search out the images covering the walls of my box and be able to see them with my own eyes.  Escape consumed my every waking thought.  I could think of nothing else.

Each day I devised a plan.  I built a ladder to scale the walls.  But every ladder I built was too short.  I tried to burrow a hole through the walls, but the walls were always too hard and thick.  I made a rope and tried to sling it over the walls but my arms were not strong enough and the rope too short.  I tried to dig under the box but the tunnel I dug kept collapsing.  I tried to scale the walls but my grip was too weak.

As each day ended in failure I grew more depressed and despondent.  Would I ever escape this box?  In a fit of frustration I began to kick and punch the walls, my knuckles becoming bloody and my feet bruised and numb.  Finally in a single moment of complete despair I cried out; “Oh God please help me!!”

I collapsed on the floor of my box.  With my eyes closed I began to concentrate on what I imagined was outside my box.  My mind wove pictures and thoughts together until I felt like I was actually outside my box.  Suddenly I felt a cool breeze across my face.  I raised my head and opened my eyes. The walls of my box were gone and laid out before me was a paradise; an oasis of beauty.  I was stunned. 

As I gazed out upon the scene before me in total disbelief I noticed there were many paths leading away from my box.  Each was unique and enticing and heading in a different direction.  Which path to choose?

I pondered this dilemma for a while and then I realized that after years of living inside a box it really didn’t matter which path I chose.  In fact it wasn’t even the path that mattered.  After years of living inside a box all that mattered now was that I kept taking steps.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. – Henry David Thoreau

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian @OneGiantStep April 21, 2011 at 8:51 am

Wow. Thank you.
Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..End Of The Line


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm

You’re welcome Gillian.


Heather April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Love this Matt! A different writing style for you, but it’s great. Good job on getting out of the box!


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Thanks Heather! I almost didn’t post this but I thought maybe people would relate to it.


Mel April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Wow, thank you.

I am trapped in the box right now. I keep trying to scale the walls, but my escape tools that I’m building aren’t working. I think I really needed this.
Mel recently posted..Episode 2 – It Doesn’t Help Anyone


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Hi Mel! I’m glad I posted this now. I almost didn’t. Are you discovering new escape tools? I like your recent comics on your blog.


ayngelina April 22, 2011 at 7:45 am

Completely agree with you, as I hit my one year I actually wrote about the box I had that I eventually opened. Love your take on it.
ayngelina recently posted..Rubbed- scrubbed and covered in mud


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Thanks Ayngelina. When those walls disappear and you step outside of that box real living begins. I’ve enjoyed following your journey.


Justin | Mazzastick April 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm


This reminds me somewhat of something that Tony Robbins said in one of his audio-programs.

He said we live in a box, work in a box, drive in a box, fly in a box etc. Basically the majority of us spend out times in the confines of a comfy box lifestyle.

Neale Donald Walsch said that life begins outside of our comfort zone. Agreed.
Justin | Mazzastick recently posted..Truth Is Knowing


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Hi Justin! I haven’t heard much of Tony Robbins but this sounds right. The boxes we live in are safe and comfortable and while that is perfectly fine for many I find myself wanting more. When I think back to times when I have stepped out and been a little uncomfortable I realize those as the best times of my life. Thanks for your comment.


deb April 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I wonder how many of us have to come to this point: “Finally in a single moment of complete despair I cried out; “Oh God please help me!!” I know I did. I was certain the despair would be the end of me. However, I woke up from a dream as well and knew it was all going to be all right. What a wonderful feeling!

I’ve begun to plot and plan my way out of my box and even though it will take about 18 months there is finally light at the end of my very dark tunnel.

Thank you for your encouraging words.

I look forward to reading more about your adventure.


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 29, 2011 at 1:50 am

Thanks Deb! I’ve found that just the process of working toward that escape make a huge difference. Even if the culmination of that plan isn’t going to happen for years donw the road, just taking those steps and making that progress keeps hope alive. Good luck to you as you plot and plan your way to new adventures and the life you desire.


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