Monday, July 9, 2012

It Doesn’t Fit in the Box

          As I was forced to clean out the garage the other day, I began filling a box with stuff that would be sold cheaply at a future yard sale, which would then allow me to buy those expensive drinks on our next cruise.  At first I was wondering where all the miscellaneous junk came from as we had already had a yard sale a year ago, and found it ludicrous that so much had been left over.  Besides, I knew that what we had not sold had gone to Goodwill.  No leftovers.  Did the girls go out and buy more stuff just so we could have something to sell?  I suddenly went and checked my office to make sure they hadn’t stripped my shelves of knick knacks when I wasn’t looking.
          The yard sale should really be called a driveway sale because that’s where everything is going.  I’ve worked too hard to get my yard to resemble real grass to have it trampled by grungy looking people searching for next year’s Christmas gifts.  But I digress.  I digressed on purpose, to be honest, because I’ve always wanted to say, “But I digress.”  Still, I digress again.
          As I was loading the box, it got to the point that things were beginning to spill over the edge.  Obviously, there was quite a bit I wanted to get rid of and all of it was not going to fit in the box.  So, being the logical man that I am, I got a bigger box and transferred everything into it.  I then went back to cleaning the garage, adding more items to the new box.  It didn’t take long, however, before things were once again tumbling over the edge and onto the floor.  “How much crap do we have?”  I screamed.
          “What’s wrong?”  The girls asked as they entered the garage after hearing my growl of frustration.
          “It doesn’t fit in the box.  What am I supposed to do with it?”  I just stared at the mess.
          I won’t share what they told me to do with it, but it did give me a workable anecdote for this writing as I stared down at the books and knick knacks scattered on the dusty floor.  There are several things that just don’t fit in my Life Box, and I have to ask myself the same question.  What am I supposed to do with it?
          Everyone has what I call a Life Box.  It’s that bubble that we put ourselves in that consists of what we deem acceptable and what we don’t.  Yet, as I read just recently, if we “keep ourselves in a bubble, the only thing we breathe is soapy air.”  Not very healthy.
          When it’s a stranger that does something not found in our box, we’re appalled, outraged, and publicly proclaim our displeasure.  We see it on television all the time.  Groups will protest, religions will condemn, and the media will exaggerate.  Some have even gone so far as to blow things up.  We feel justified and righteous because those people need to behave like us, after all.  Our box is the right one and everything outside is damnable.  We know it’s the right one because it’s our box and it fits us.  What fits us should fit everyone.
          Then it hits us at home.  A family member, a friend, someone we may work closely with, starts behaving outside of our box and we don’t know how to handle it.  We’re no longer watching it on television, where it’s not at a safe distance, but seeing it played out in our personal world.  The overload for some is just too much and they shut down.  Relationships are severed, sometimes never to be reconnected and all because people don’t know how to deal with what’s outside of their box.
          I smile when I hear people say, “Think outside the box.”  They want you to stretch your creative instincts to increase their business.  Yet, if you stretch your box outside the boundaries of theirs you’ve gone too far.  There’s an invisible line in the sand.  Be creative, just don’t be too creative.
          We do the same with life.  There’s a general consensus of what is “normal” in society, boundaries put in place centuries ago that people dare not challenge.  “I’m not going to tell you how to live your life,” but you better do it this way.  The box was created with solid steel walls surrounded by concrete laws.  Immoveable.  Permanent.
           When it comes to dealing with things outside of my box, I tend to look at the people and not the lifestyle.  I don’t buy into the whole belief system that one lifestyle threatens or harms another.  I also don’t believe that the “normal” family unit is any better for a child than any other.  I know several heterosexual, one man, one woman couples that should be forbidden to copulate and produce offspring.  Their children come out just as dysfunctional as them if not worse.  Don’t believe me?  Visit Wal-Mart on any given weekend.
          What do kids need?  Love.  Encouragement.  Support.  A place to feel safe and protected.  These traits can be found in people regardless of their sexual orientation or lifestyle.
          Just because I wouldn’t cover my arms with tattoos or pierce strange parts of my body or pretend I’m a vampire doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with those individuals that do.  It’s their life.  It’s their body.  As far as I’m concerned they can do what they want with it.  As long as what they do does not have a negative impact on my family, I don’t care.  If I was the government I’d be more concerned about how many lazy asses are mooching off of our welfare system than whether two men can be married.  Being outside the box means you don’t worry about what others are doing as much as who they are,
          Our country was founded because people wanted out of the box.  They were tired of being told how to worship or being oppressed by taxes.  Yet, we’ve fallen into the same trap.  They wanted their freedom; they fought and died for freedom’s sake, and yet, we want to suppress the freedom of others to live life as they choose.
          Women’s rights activists came along and broke through the stereotypical fifties housewife box.  Equal pay for equal work and an equal vote in how this country should be run as well as so much more.  To be honest, in many arenas they are still fighting that battle.  Fantastic.  I’m all for equal rights across the board regardless of gender, race, age or color.  However, once they got out of that box they tried to force everyone else into their new box.  “You don’t have to stay at home anymore and cook and clean.  You’re free to pursue your own dreams and ambitions, to build a career for yourself.”
          “But, I am following my dream.  I want to be a housewife.”
          “No, you only think you do.  That’s what society - man’s society - has brainwashed you to believe.  Now, get out of the home and do as I am doing.”
          I honestly believe that for the longest time the loudest group forced everyone else to go along with it.  There’s nothing wrong with a woman who wants to work outside of the home.  Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to keep house.  For that matter, a man can do either, as well.  The rules are no longer universal and as they are defined within the relationship, it doesn’t matter if it matches up with the mainstream world.
          Destroy the box!  Let it end where our personal boundaries begin.  Don’t take another’s life or even their name.  Don’t destroy or steal their possessions.  Let each live with their personal choices and beliefs and cease judging each person by the same cookie cutter that you’ve created your life with.  Dare to think outside the box.  Better yet, dare to live outside the box.

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