Wednesday, May 11, 2005


So Hubba-hubba, Mr. Personality, and I were eating at a restaurant the other week. With the meal came some complimentary ice cream. Now, I have never been known to say no to spumoni, so I happily began spooning. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a disapproving stare from a fellow restaurant patron. I felt myself become squashed, it began to become darker, and suddenly, the darkness was complete. I was helpless.

I was boxed.

The person at the other table had obviously judged me as someone who needed to ease up a bit on the ice cream intake, and where in the world was her self control? Couldn't she just say no? Obviously, no is not a word that she applies to food very often. And what about that child, he looks ok now, but certainly he is doomed to a life of weight problems judging by the obvious relish with which Mom is eating that stuff.

What is it about us that feels so comfortable about putting people into neat little categories, slamming the lid shut, and filing us away?

Stay at home mom, must not have any independence.
Liberal Democrat, must not believe in God.
Conservative Republican, must be a Bible-thumper.
Working mom, must not love her children.
Arkansas resident, must be dumber than a doorpost.
Doesn't like provocative billboards, must want to homeschool and repeal freedom of the press.

Mel feels boxed.

Boxes must be our way of ordering life into handy little containers to make sense of what is certainly an overwhelming world. How else are we to process all the little bits of information, if not to examine what we are presented with and categorize accordingly? We see, we hear, and instantly (and rather impressively) our brains harness all the references we posess to those bits of data, and conveniently, we create our boxes.

Boxes are not inherently bad. It is just that we have a tendency, once a box has been assembled, to shut the lid and not reexamine the contents at a later date.

Our boxes fail to acknowledge the nuance of character. They have difficulty in grasping the faceted nature of thoughts and ideas. They rarely take into account the differences in breadth and scope of everyone's experiences.

Boxes are easy.

People, with their diverse intelligence, faith, thoughts, moods, and faults, are very very hard.

We tend to gravitate toward the easy.


Mel said...

You said that beautifully. Slap a label on a box and consider it a done deal!

WordsRock said...

Just make sure to put me in a BIG box. I need room to roll around and stretch my legs.

Piece of Work said...

"It is just that we have a tendency, once a box has been assembled, to shut the lid and not reexamine the contents at a later date. "

I love that, so true. And I am as guilty as the next person. unfortunately.

Carmi said...

The world would be a happier place if people looked inward at the precise moment when they would normally look at those around them in a judgmental manner.

Humanity likes its little boxes, it seems, and so people derive comfort from pigeonholing those around them.

What a stupid way to live our lives. You would think that we would have learned by now.

I hope the ice cream tasted especially good.

Cuppa said...

Boxes! They beg to be opened don't they? They are so concealing and misleading. I big fancy box can dress up a tiny cheap trinket, and a plain little box can hide the beauty of a diamond ring.

Let's open all the boxes that we have accumulated in our lives and squash them all. Put them out in the trash and live with the reality inside each one.

We can do this with the box we have put God in, other people and ourselves. Open them all and look inside.

Heather said...

Speaking of boxes... I once had a presentation to make about how we interpret data, and to illustrate my point, I handed out a variety of chocolates (some expensive, some just chocolate chips) in a variety of boxes (some gold foil fancy boxes, some just crumpled wax paper). I was trying to get people to understand that sometimes we respond differently to what's inside if the packaging looks different.

We all need to package each other in fancy gold foil and assume the best is inside :-)

Gina said...

Aren't you guys just the best?