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"Living in a Box"

By Jo May-Prussack



She lived in a box with no way out. All she could see was four walls.

One day something awful happened - the box got a knock which dented one of the walls. Now her comfortable darkness was disturbed.

In one corner was a tiny chink of light. It worried her like an itch. Day after day she kept poking at it, excited by the pain in her eyeballs. And as she worked the chink bigger, so her box changed. She became aware of its colours, shape and textures - and also that it was a trap. Unable to stay or get out, she got frantic. The chink enlarged and she squeezed out.

She lay panting and blinking. Everything was different and she felt afraid. If only she were safely boxed. She looked back. The box looked disgusting.

She found she could breathe. Her head filled with the scent of sweet grass, dappled colour and birdsong. A gentle current thrilled her to the core. Time passed and she learned about the colours, smells and sounds, and also about the ways of the creatures and people, who sometimes gave her pleasure and sometimes pain. She learned to fit in. And she made them fit. That way there were fewer unpleasant surprises.

So soon she was back in a box - a bigger, more varied and beautiful box, but still a box, with walls as far as she could see. She would have stayed happy, only having already escaped once, she knew something was missing. Nothing out there was totally satisfying. She got miserable. People avoided her because she began not to fit.

And then something Totally Unexpected happened. (The thing, place, persona, belief, part of her body she valued most disappeared.) Her world shook and cracked its walls. The more she struggled to hold it together, the more she could see only cracks, and the bigger they grew, the more it hurt. So she let go and it all flew apart.

When the pain, dust and tears settled, things still looked the same, except she didn't have to fit them into anything any more. They appeared as they were and that was Totally Acceptable. She didn't have to fit anybody else's box either, and that felt wonderful.

And the more good she felt about herself and about the others, the less she tried to fit and fit in, and the more she filled with a sense of oneness. And so the world became less like a lot of boxes and more like a circle.

(I wrote this some years ago, and it was published in South West Connection. Quite a lot of people said it spoke to them.)

I wanted to write about the Human Potential Movement and Why People Do Groups and What It's All About, but it's much too difficult to put into words. (In general terms it sounds airy-fairy, and examples of other peoples experiences may have nothing to do with yours.) So instead, here's a story - Jo May

Jo May-Prussack South West Connection 1986


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Updated: 11/30/14