I have a confession to make. I’m not crazy about trying to solve puzzles, unravel mysteries, or even deciphering riddles. Fact is, my brain is already working overtime just to keep up with daily living. I still think I’m a pretty creative person, though. I mean, I’m a fiction writer…I make up stuff about people who don’t really exist. Outside of the writing world, that would be called a pathological liar. And I know for a fact, liars are creative. Doesn’t writing count for something?
Apparently, not much; that is, according to a friend who challenged me to step outside of the box. She wanted me to do the kind of thinking that would allow me to draw four straight lines through the middle of all of the dots in the grid below, without taking my pencil off the paper.
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Okay, so what if I couldn’t do it? I’ve never had a problem with being inside my special little box, anyway. It’s warm, cozy, and familiar. I also know what to expect in my little box, so that makes life somewhat predictable for me too. And who can’t appreciate a little less drama?
Another friend’s greatest caution was that being in a box pretty much slowed down the ability to reach goals. “You can’t be half-way in and half-way out,” she said. “You’ve got to be all the way out.” She even played an old Diana Ross song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-mjl63e0ms
Verbal persuasion only goes so far with people like me. Sometimes, I really do need to see it to believe it. With that mindset, I put on my research cap, grabbed my kids, and started experimenting in my driveway. Stopwatch in hand and my son videotaping, I was determined to see how long it would take my daughter to get from point A to point B completely in a box … half-way in a box … and out of a box? Would she be able to reach the final goal? Check this out:
As you can see, there was a lot of stumbling going on. More progress was made with one foot out of the box, than both feet inside, but it was still like dragging something heavy along—not at all freeing like being unconfined and running toward a goal. Oh! And I found the answer to the puzzle above:
In a nutshell, the boundaries are artificial. The only constraints are my preconceived notions about needing to stay within the confines of the box. Seems, to me, I have to extend beyond the barriers; otherwise, I’m limited. By stepping out of the box, I can achieve my goals.