Man In The Box

photoI am a man in the box. It is a box that I have made myself. It has its own logic and unique structure that took years to conform. It is a stubborn box that does not like to change its shape nor does it like it when I make certain revisions. My box has a very specific idea of the world and it is in this shape that it wants to stay. No matter how much I clean, fix, mend, adjust or renovate- my box always returns to its former state of disarray and disorder. My box is a universe unto itself. It has its own date and time and it does not care if it conflicts with yours or mine. It deviates from almost every norm and code and does not seem to care about such concepts as good or bad, right or wrong. I do know how it is that I have ended up in this box, but now that I am here I feel like I am always struggling to stay alive.

Within my box, I am perpetually alone. I can often hear the discordant sounds that can only be heard when the mind becomes silent. A wind chime that slow dances in the wind, the box settling into the agitated earth, a solitary bird call, a cats yawn or yell, a metallic bird flying overhead, distant voices alive and dead, siren sounds and occasionally I will hear a star falling.  When I am in a mad rush to get my box cleaned and ordered I can no longer hear these wondrous sounds but instead I am lead by anxious thoughts that will not let me just sit down and breathe. The thoughts torment me with the things that need to get done in order for me to become the man that I wish to be. These thought refuse to let me be just who I am and at times my thoughts will fill my mind with sexual fantasies that erect in me a load that I almost always have to release in the bathroom. As I clean my box, these thoughts knock away at me from the deepest rooms of my soul and my only defense is to continue cleaning until I can hear no more. I scrub, wipe, mop, sweep and dry until there is no more dust, dirt, grease mold, bacteria, stains, odors and lingering cobwebs left that I can find. I work my heart into a frenzy in order to free myself from my mind.

It is only when my box is clean and tidy and filled with the luscious odors of gardenias and lavender that I can be still and content. I can then once again hear the stars falling from the sky and my box settling into the agitated earth and now that everything is in its right place, everything is as it should be. Even though outside my box chaos and entropy may be lords inside feels fine. I sit quietly, sometimes in the lotus posture, besides my space heater and feel and listen to the calming expansions and contractions of my own breath. I become drunk on my own breath and sit as calmly and effortlessly as a man without a worry in the world would. It is in this state that I will often times remain for hours or days, content with who and where I am (without a single spark of desire that wishes to be someone else or somewhere else) and proud of the box that I have made.

Unfortunately, one can only sit still for so long before things begin to fall apart. I get back up, dust off my numb and pulsating legs (which I usually have to drink green algae and magnesium to relieve) and notice that my box is no longer as clean as it once was. The cobwebs, dust, dirt, odors, stains, mold and bacteria that were once long gone have returned with vengeance. I immediately return to work. I clean on my hands and knees and can no longer understand the peace that once was mine. I scrub with an effort of determination that wipes away all my joy but still the thoughts that emphasize words like failure, sick, poor, worry and death are relentless and refuse to let my body and soul be. I struggle against the forces that want to take from me what I once had and I end up turning my box into a living hell. In my distress I open windows, light candles, play Mozart and Bach on my record player and force myself to breathe deeply and bring my attention to the gentle notes emanating sounds from violin strings- but my box is shaking with fear and only a few stiff drinks will settle the trembling earth beneath my feet.

Sometimes I have a tendency to drink one to many. I knock into walls and fall onto the floor. My laughter returns from the void and I want to dance. I smoke cigarettes and talk to myself about philosophy, art and politics as if I was engaging three others in stimulating conversation. My thoughts are still and my soul is once again filled with lightness and joy and free to swim around in the swimming pool of inebriation. For hours I will wonder around my box drunk and in love with the world inside my front door.  I look at everything that I own with adoration and gratitude and I celebrate the life that I am living with song and dance. I dwell in my pleasant memories like a lone sailor quietly drifting out to sea and I remember faces from my past with a heart the beats with fond nostalgia. Free from my fears and the burden of daily responsibilities I relish away my time in a drunken revelry like a man who is living his final day to its fullest. When my time is up I will pass out wherever I maybe and in the morning awake with nothing to show for my hours of glory and celebration other than a clouded memory of fun, nausea, aching temples and a lingering thorn of shame and longing somewhere in my gut.

No matter where I go or what I do, in my box I always end up right back where I began. Day turns into night and night again turns into day and I am continuously left alone to deal with who I am. No matter how many distractions I may preoccupy myself with during the course of a day I always come back to the life I am living. My box is stubborn and will not twist or alter its shape no matter how much I change things around. Everyday, like a loyal servant, I clean and open the windows so that light can come into my box and shine against the freshly cleaned walls and floors. but I am always faced with inevitable night that fills my box with darkness. Since I have confronted the irreversible fact that I am stuck in this box, I am learning to become comfortable with these cycles that I have no control over. Even though my box refuses to move, shift, tilt, sway or stretch I can accept the things that are beyond my control. Within my box I can embrace the moments when I am still and at peace as equally as the moments when I am filled with fear and worry and driven into drunkenness. The more I embrace all of my experiences the more I see all of these cycles not as dualities that oppose and work against each other, but rather as textures filled with layers of love, fear, passion and dispassion. This is the continuum that I prefer to think of as life. Within my box I will continue to accept my experience as apart of this continuum and fill my box with love, hate, joy, anger, worry, sadness, bliss, terror and anything else that contributes to my experience of life. I will clean, scrub, care for, and tolerate my box until the day that it is time for me to pack my bags and find another place to live.


  1. And so it goes, around and around and around.

    This was very touching for me on a deeper level Randall, because in the end I found the word accept.

    Accept is something I try to do with my cancer. I need to accept it so that I can get past it and live in this world. So that I don’t stay stuck.

    You gave me a gift with this post and I don’t exactly know how to tell you what it was.


    Love Renee

  2. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    In Only 3 Minutes, You Can Quickly And Easily Crank Out A Killer Cover Letter That Is Guaranteed To Have Your Phone Ringing Off The Hook With Hot Job Interviews And Top Job Offers… Without Writing One Word!

  3. I have slowed down- partially to spend more time in books and also because my computer has been malfunctioning and I have grown impatient with it. I will resume any day now. Thanks for checking in.

  4. Are you stuck in your box? Hellloooooooo Randall. Gee this beer is nice. Would you like one? I don;t need to be filled with fear and worry to be driven to drunkeness. Just thirst and a little boredom will do the trick. Your writing is superb, you are a master craftsman, even if a little self-absorbed and inner twisting, haha. I think I will pick up your box and give it a good shake. Boing boing hello anyone in there?

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