Screw the "Box"

(Periodically, expect me this year to be interjecting more life-coach-like posts about how to reach for your dreams, get out of your own way and have adventures. I am lighting a fire under each of you because I have never known a larger group of talented folks who need a little inspiration to take it to the next level. I'm going to teach you how to soup up your blogs, how to get your thinking straight, how to go have adventures and pick up talents you set aside or haven't even found yet. It will still be done within the setting of even more innovative posts about the paranormal world and probably some zingers you weren't expecting. Let's just say 2011 is the year of you.)

Thinking and living "outside the box," leads to a life of wonder and success, discovery and character.

When I was growing up, we lived on a big estate. Mom didn't drive and dad was away most of the time on his business trips. So, I learned to play amongst the woods and the boxwood gardens, the stables and the tree forts.

One day, when I was 5, mom decided I should start first grade. No kindergarten, just first grade; Smack! Right away, a year too early. I walked into class and stood in horror. So many children! Where had these other small creatures come from? I grew up with much older siblings. What were children???

They knew each other because they lived in the suburbs together. They played weird games with strings that they put around their fingers and wove in and out. They played something called "hopscotch" on the playground. They had customs I knew nothing about. My parents didn't take me to kid's movies or read me childrens books (apathy by child number 5) and these kids talked of someone named Cinderella and clapped their hands together while reciting weird poems.

I was completely an outsider in every way; too young, too quiet, too sensitive, too creative and had absolutely no sense of need to be part of the collective. I watched their social customs like an alien new to Earth. I wasn't sure why the little girls were happy to play the same game tossing a rock and jumping on one foot over and over every day as if here would be some new outcome. Why didn't they pretend the monkey bars were a castle and get the boys to be the dragons that protect it? Why weren't they telling stories and catching locusts and pretending to be birds? I wondered quietly if they were perhaps mentally challenged in some way, or at least creatively challenged.

Then, one day on the playground, the girls made fun of a very outcast girl named Eva. They laughed and taunted her and then the boys came over trying to lift her skirt and show her panties. I was shocked no one was helping the poor girl. I ran over and punched the boys in the stomachs and guarded Eva with all my might until the teacher came.

Then, the collective eyed me as something feral and they took a collective step back from me.

Back in the classroom, the teacher announced that my home was going to be on a TV special about the most haunted houses in the country, that I lived in an old Civil War hospital. The collective shoved their chairs back a bit further. Now, I was even more odd and kind of scary.

This story shows my life pretty well. If it's popular and hip, I don't want it. If it's a bunch of vapid sheep doing something together, I want nothing to do with it. I never wanted to be "in" or "hip." I am always going to do what is right, even if it makes me a pariah. I can also tell you that of all the folks in the collective in high school, I cannot recall a one of those sheep's names. Part of being inside the box is to give up your identity and become assimilated into the collective.

I like the color orange, whether it's "in" or not. I will not straighten my hair when it's curly, that is not the Autumnforest package! I will always befriend those with big hearts and unseen talents rather than a person who looks like all the others and possesses no soul or free will, no talents, interests or individual dreams, who at their core is terribly insecure and looking for direction constantly.

One thing we know about the box is that true leaders and innovators, creative types and forward thinkers use it to stand on so they can see the whole landscape and plot their next move. Companies that are successful ask their employees to think outside the box and become huge innovators that change our world while other companies struggle to make change or adapt or dare to offer a new way to do an old thing.

One of the collective came across me online a couple years ago. She was one of the box-dwellers. I didn't recall her name or anything about her, but she could recite me quite well. I was the girl with the fur vest and fur mini skirt and go-go boots with the long auburn hair and who had fights with boys on the playground when they wouldn't play by the rules at basketball, who out jumped, out ran, and out did the boys, shoved more than one of the taunting boys into mud puddles, who lived in the big scary mansion and won the awards for her art work. For me being a very shy quiet girl in elementary school, this sheep recalled me in vivid technicolor and yet I couldn't tell you anything remarkable about her, not even her hair color or where she sat in the classroom. Quite telling, hmm?

Standing apart is the only way to succeed, to maintain your self respect. And remember this: Whatever barometer those in the box are using, it came from someone outside the box who told them what is "in," what makes them "one of the crowd."

Lead or follow, thrive or stagnate, look to yourself for you standards and values and, at all costs, screw the box!

Be visible, be memorable, be your own compass.

(As if I need to say this to any of you--I cannot think of one of my followers who dwells within a box and that is why I so adore y'all. Perhaps we should call ourselves "within the bag" instead of "within the box"? I suspect this post sings to each of you as you are all innovators like myself.)


  1. I alway was an outsider and learned to defend myself.

  2. Great advice from someone who knows.

    (and I'm not touching that title!) ;)

  3. I completely agree. I know a lot of people (mostly on my dad's side of the family) who would be shocked, SHOCKED at the idea of standing out from the crowd. I remember, my dad's fiancee kept trying to get me to paint my (half-way done) new room a "nice, off white color, with some pastel blue sheets"! These "sheep" as you so cleverly put it, Autumn, are the kind of people I will NEVER take any crap from. They see people who stand out and regard them as freaks. I like to try and call these people out as the hypocrites they are.

    OK, pardon the rant, I'll get off the soapbox now. Again, GREAT POST!

  4. Echo;
    Good for you! I'll defend you too, honey.

    The title just came to mind when I thought of the damn box! I figured this might call to a lot of readers.

    Buddy, you are a seriously delightful example of this at work. I know how hard that is to be outside the box within your own family. My mother was extremely rigid about what others think and I have many highly religious relatives who have no idea where they stand on new things until they turn to their minister to tell them where they stand on it. Reminds me of those folks who removed their sneakers and laid down on beds to die and go to Hale-Bopp. When it comes down to it, if you are happy entertaining yourself and have your own activities and interests, whether or not the crowd comes with you has no relevance. If you feel secure in who you are and what you personally want, you don't envy others or emulate them, you look to yourself for what you want and how to do it. Sheep simply lack security in doing things alone, perhaps not being liked and forming their own opinions. Just watch any episode of any "housewives" show and you'll see sheep at work. It's rather frightening, isn't it? Keep it up, buddy, you have sooooo much to offer the world and so many successes ahead of you by being an innovator.

  5. Being a vapid sheep myself, your post confuses me. I'm all for thinking outside the box and following your own compass, but I fear drawing undue attention from Big Brother, as that is exactly the type of person they want to make an example out of by making disappear.

    Of course, I am sure somewhere there is a girl named Eva that is glad that there was someone that chose to think differently.

  6. didn't saturday night live do a skit called "c@ck in a box"?

    great post. we are all trapped in our own box, but some of us put in windows and doors to let us out of it, all the time.

    though sometimes my door is locked and the windows have bars...


  7. RR;
    Yes, Eva. Well, perhaps she at least knows that there are people in the world who prefer to do what's right over what is popular. We all at some point have to be sheepish, such as being quiet in movie theaters. Sometimes, by never going against the crowd, you miss out on things you might have been good at. If the crowd says you should be doing sports and physical activities but you might have been a great musician, you will never know that part of yourself. Stepping out isn't about saying "F-you" to the sheep, it's saying "I count more than your collective needs."

  8. Jeremy;
    Hey, the bars and locks, they keep out the riff raff.

    Damn, that was a digital short, I do believe and brilliantly hilarious! God, I love the digital shorts. I'd like to have a DVD of just those-they're really the only good thing about SNL anymore.

  9. My new poem, which I will post tomorrow, describes a fire being lit, although not literally. (Stay tuned!)

  10. I've been lurking on your blog for a little bit (loving all of it too, I must say), but I wanted to jump out of the shadows and say a huge THANK YOU for this post. A lot of the story reminds me of my own childhood, although I didn't grow up in a wicked cool haunted house. I'm totally envious! :D

  11. Eric;
    I will stay tuned!

    You gave me a big smile and made my day, honey. I'm glad you've been lurking and I hope you'll make it a second home. I do say it like it is, but hopefully the people who really matter, like yourself, totally get it. You know you're destined for greatness when you develop character while others lose theirs, you develop a strong will where others give theirs away, you develop fortitude while others cave. Keep rocking it outside the box!

  12. No more box for me... I recycled it and I am free... thanks for all you did.

  13. Hey sis;
    You punched through that box, dear. I just held it still for you while you went at it tooth and nail.

  14. "within the bag"--oh, how I love that!

  15. Mrs. C;
    It's oh so stretchy and changeable in shape, hmm?

  16. @autumnforest: Exactly! EXACTLY.


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