Boxes Are Good For Moving


Posted by admin | Posted in Mental | Posted on 05-03-2010

I recently received a joke via email from one of my best friends:

Retiree Bathtub Test

During a visit to my doctor, I asked him, “How do you determine whether or not a retiree should be put in an old age home?”

“Well,” he said, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the retiree and ask him or her to empty the bathtub”

“Oh, I understand,” I said. “A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”

“No” he said. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”

I like this joke.  I find it funny.  When I hear (or read) good jokes, I work on how to reuse them, so I started doing the same with this one.

However, as I analyzed this one, I began to see that there was another lesson here, marginally more important than making someone laugh—something that I find to be quite important!


Boxes?  (Envision heads tilted like an RCA dog…)


There are certain parameters we all abide by:  We live on this planet.  Gravity.  Weather patterns.  You name it.  (Even such parameters can be worked around, but not regularly enough to be considered trivial.)

The parameters above are analogous to the sides of a box; the “box” we must operate within.

Given such parameters, that still leaves us with a lot of room to live in.  Our “box” is huge!  So big that we don’t even think there is a box.

From the time each of us is born, we are given new parameters that further define the size of our box.  Eat this.  We live in this country.  In this state.  We need an education.  We need a job.  Obey the laws.  [Insert your own parameter(s) here.]

To be relevant, each new parameter must be within our box, so each new parameter will reduce the size of our box.

In life, we will often be confronted with a situation, and be given—either explicitly or implicitly—a set of parameters to deal with that situation.  Several times, those parameters are real, such as the laws of physics, or even the laws of the government.

When such parameters are real, we must abide by them, due to potential repercussions by stepping out of the “box.”

However—and where the lesson of the above joke comes in—there are situations in which we assume our own parameters.  We create artificial boundaries for ourselves much tighter than the real parameters.  Over time, these artificial boundaries become so” real,” that we can’t even imagine what’s on the other side of them.  But they’re only real in our minds.

When we have freedom of movement within our boundaries, we feel relaxed and content, perhaps even blissfully unaware of any boundaries.  But as soon as we feel even minimally constrained within our box, we start becoming stressed.  Have you ever felt “boxed in?”  “Unable to move?”  With very little “wiggle room?”

Periodically, we must each examine the parameters of our “boxes,” including “rediscovering” what’s on the other side of them—investigate what’s outside the box—to determine if the parameter defining that particular side of the box was indeed a legitimate constraint, or did we just assume it was.  How can we make our boxes bigger?  So big that I can’t even see the sides?  HOW DO I BECOME FREE?

Life is already absurd on its own, without us making it even more absurd than it has to be.

Pull the plug!  (Or find a nice window for your box…)