Living Outside of the Boxes
I’m walking down the Mill Race path on a rainy, dreary fall day. Earlier, I woke up to a blistering headache; it felt like a vise was tightening around my head, slowly pushing me to oblivion. I am one of the fortunate: this only happens to me every couple of years or so. When, finally, the pressure went down and my body felt able, I grabbed the leash, my bright yellow slicker, and Stella the dog and I went out for a long walk. Oblivious to the steady dripping from the sky, we both breathe in the fresh air and sniff what lays around us. Stella is more interested in the ground level smells, I dwell on the earthy aromas of autumn. Up ahead, mist is rising from the Race and creates a surreal shroud, and as I walk, I truly feel that I am in another world. The cacophony of Third Street seems miles away, though just beyond my sight.
Born into another culture and country, and placed not by my own choice into this one, I have always been in my own world. It is one that carries the good of everything I have touched and also frees me to follow my own rules. So often I see or hear around me the voices of those who feel trapped by the social order that they live in. We are not meant to be sheep, chased and guided by the shepherd dogs, with no detours allowed. We are given minds to think, and choices to make. And we need to make use of them.
Since I did not learn the “appropriate” way to do things, I have had to figure some of these things out on my own. I end up becoming part of many worlds, and not tied to just one. And the burden of trying to live up to a golden standard is gone. I do the best I can with my curious mind, and learn to follow my inner voice. So I am freed of the constraints of “you must do this” “or that” to fit into the mold.
I grew up with one box, with a Belgian and an American side but my box was upended when I arrived in Goshen. Since then, I have been living outside the box, regularly peeking into boxes around me, sometimes climbing into one of them for a better view, and then climbing out again. Sometimes, it can be lonely out in the big wide open. But the view is undeniably bigger and broader.
As I finished my walk, edging out of the mist and back into the everyday of downtown Goshen, I thought about all of the lives behind all of the house fronts. I see so much diversity, yet so little interaction beyond our own box. I crave the day when the boxes are broken down and we each create our own worlds, with good all around. Until that day, I will continue to peek into other boxes and try to understand those worlds and love the good I see. And today, at our house, the wet dog and I will warm ourselves in front of the wood stove, in our world.