I guess we’ve all heard the refrain: “We need more out the box thinking!”
Sometimes the call is for more in the box thinking?
There’s always a box.
The first half of life is about growing ourselves to be lifelong learners and contributors. For this we need the creative tension of boundaries (the box) and freedom (curiosity, questions, and imagination). Everyone frames their response with boundaries, whether they or others set these:
What’s the problem?
How many people do we have?
What’s our budget?
When do you need this by?
Who do we report to?
How far into the future are we looking and thinking?
What resources are available?
These questions, and more, are attempts to define the reality of the box, more than anecdotally or first perception. The best boxes invite us to become “one with the box,” responding to deep wisdom, inviting better questions over easy answers. But even poor or nightmarish boxes are places in which we can learn: see Viktor Frankl‘s experience of boundaries and freedom in work-camps and death-camps.
Each of us has grown up within different boxes, which we have defined, explored, understood, and learnt from.
We all start within a box but we are not meant to stay there. In the second half of life (which isn’t about years but growth) we get to move beyond the box. I’m slow, so I’ve spent thirty five years within the box of my institution; I’ve learnt a lot, but am about to move beyond the box. It will still be there, but in a different way. When we move beyond the box we create larger boxes for others to explore.*
The Industrial Age demanded people stay within the box – and away from the boundaries – but the new age which we all find ourselves in, ‘demands citizens who are self-learners, who are creative and resourceful, who can adjust and adapt to constant change.’**