Warning: Soap box post ahead. In no way is this post intended to incite a riot among my readers; it is simply a post which will attempt to get you to think outside of the dreaded box.
When I was in fourth grade, I had a friend who would play the “What if” game. It would begin with me saying something very bland, such as: “I’m going to the lake this weekend.” He would then start in with the “what ifs”, such as:
What if it rains?
What if the lake is all dried up?
What if you run out of sunscreen and get so sunburned you have to go to the ER?
What if there is a rare freshwater shark that no one knows about and you get attacked?
What if meteor falls in the lake while you’re swimming?
The What If game almost always ended in my demise or dismemberment and I would roll my eyes as far as I could and holler out a disgusted “AAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH! SERIOUSLY!!!”
But today, let’s play the What If game with happier consequences.
- What if you stopped caring what others thought of you? Perhaps, more truthfully, what if you stopping caring about what you think others are thinking about you?
- What if you stepped outside of the box of social norms? The house, the cars, compulsory schooling, college right out of high school, “socially acceptable” job, etc.
- What if you stopped comparing yourself to others?
- What if you were happy with the way you looked?
- What if you quit that job you hated and followed your passion?
- What if you were totally debt free?
- What if I told you that grades in school don’t matter in the long run?
- What if I told you that you can be perfectly happy and successful without a college degree?
- What if, every morning, you chose joy?
- What if you were less selfish?
- What if you forgave instead of harboring anger?
- What if you truly lived by the Golden Rule? (Do to others as you would have them do to you)
Do some of these questions make you squeamish? Angry? Sad? Uncomfortable?
Again, my intent is to not anger, but to get you to think outside of the box. I wouldn’t ask any question of you that I have not asked of myself. I still struggle with some of the answers.
As much as I do not wish to be anywhere near what is considered “normal”, I also do not want to alienate my associates and my friends, so therefore I must temper my thoughts and my conversations with the knowledge that there will always be those who do not agree with me. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. I don’t know anyone who agrees upon every single issue with another person. I don’t even think that’s humanly possible. But it doesn’t mean that you are wrong or your friend is wrong because your thoughts are different. I have been seeing far too many hateful posts and comments on social media lately. It saddens me.
Several years ago, I read “The Last American” by Elizabeth Gilbert. There was a single passage that stuck with me about circles and boxes. So, here is the truth bomb for you: Life is a circle, not a box. So why are we so adamant about forcing the round peg into the square hole?
Passage from “The Last American”:
Eustace Conway left home at 17 to live on his own in the wilderness. Here he discusses two different worlds while speaking to elementary school children :
“‘I live, in nature, where everything is connected, circular. The seasons are circular. The planet is circular, and so is its passage around the sun. The course of water over the earth is circular coming down from the sky and circulating through the world to spread life and then evaporating up again. I live in a circular teepee and I build my fire in a circle, and when my loved ones visit me, we sit in a circle and talk. The life cycles of plants and animals are circular. I live outside where I can see this. The ancient people understood that our world is a circle, but we modern people have lost sight of that. I don’t live inside buildings, because buildings are dead places where life stops. I don’t want to live in a dead place. People say that I don’t live in the real world, but it’s modern Americans who live in a fake world, because they’ve stepped outside the natural circle of life.
‘I saw the circle of life most clearly when I was riding my horse across America and I came across the body of a coyote that had recently died. The animal was mummified from the desert heat, but all around it, in a lush circle, was a small band of fresh green grass. The earth was borrowing nutrients from the animal and regenerating itself. This wasn’t about death, I realized; this was about eternal life. I took the teeth from that coyote and made myself this necklace right here, which always circles my neck, so I’d never forget that lesson.
‘Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house box and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box. Does that sound like anybody you know?’”
Now, friends, I will ask you again, “What if?”