Most people live their entire lives in tiny little boxes of their own making. I recognize the tendency because I too live in my own tiny box. But, for most people, the box we live in isn’t as tiny as it once was. It grows when we step out of it, over and over again. Until it isn’t such a tiny box after all.
Experience is the great teacher, be it ours or the work of others before us. Reading and understanding are also forms of stepping out. Building things of significance, be they careers or causes or art or relationships, expand our tiny boxes. And journeys of consequence are also expansive in nature. I’ve never quite fit in my old box when I return from a faraway place or a mountain top, nor would I want to.
Some choose to remain in their tiny boxes. Perhaps they find it comfortable in there. It isn’t our place to expand other people’s boxes, but we can gently coax them outside for a stretch. The sneaky part about helping other people expand their boxes is that ours expand in kind.
Now and then I’ve realized that inside the box was far more comfortable than the place I found myself on the outside, but I couldn’t get back in again as hard as I tried. Soon any discomfort faded and I realized that it was just my hardened edges expanding to new places. I’ve learned to enjoy that feeling of discomfort more each time.
We reach a point where we want to spend more time outside stretching, and less time pressed inside our borders. I hope that feeling never goes away, but I see it fades in some people. If you aren’t paying attention you get pretty comfortable in that box you’ve built and even stretching a little bit seems like a step too far.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes it feels better to just stay where you’re comfortable. After all, there’s nothing cozy about leaping. Crossing chasms is scary and dangerous work. So why risk it?
Because we weren’t born to live in tiny boxes.