A Bigger Box

I woke this morning at 3:30 am. I am an early to bed, early rise, sort of person, but 3:30 is ridiculous. My first thought was that sleep time is boring; I’d rather be up and reading with coffee. Sleep is much more fun if there are dreams, and my dreams have been sparse.

I pulled my nite hood back down over my eyes, and watched the blur on the back of my eyelids for a moment. Soon it was 5 am, and I had a dream! A tiny dream that was not very exciting, but here I am, about to tell you about it.

I dreamed about a wooden box. In the dream, I had seen an ad about this box. It was a cube, maybe 14 inches square. But in my living dream experience, it was much taller, maybe twice as tall or more. I kept checking the ad, and looking at the “real” box. I was confused in the dream, by the difference. It was a box that I had to construct myself, one of those self-assembly jobs, but an easy one. The cover would sit snuggly into place, but I stood with it in my hand, as I weighed the difference between experience and expectation.

Sometimes the most powerful dreams are tiny like this. The fact that I remembered it at all made it important, when I’ve not recorded many dreams for ages. My first thought was that maybe I don’t need dreams, that I live in a larger waking dream than anything I might catch in the night. I reminded myself to continue to pay attention to the symbols and metaphors all around me, all the time. If we carefully watch our waking life, we don’t need to process it so much in the night.

But I did not want to dismiss the dream without thinking about it further. Boxes, boxed in, limitations. I was not boxed in, in this dream. I was outside of the box. I was the one MAKING the box, and feeling the surprise that the box was bigger than expected. If boxes are limitations, then my limitations, limitations of my own making, are less restrictive than I was led to believe by “advertising.”

I was encouraged by the notion of being outside the box. That’s me, in many ways. I am not boxed in at all, and I think outside the box. The boxes I construct are more roomy than people expect. But I still make boxes. We all do. It’s scary to be without limits. What if we all lived outside the box? How would we contain ourselves? Lol! Would our imaginations run wild? Would our emotions be out of control?

I think about how often I try to box up my difficult emotions, and how I tend to jam the lid on them. I do this less now. I used to do it with food, and I no longer use the lid of overeating to squash and bury emotions like I used to. But I still have other lids – a game of solitaire, a tv show, facebook… The list goes on, all the ways I can box up what I do not want to look at.

I have been practising meditation more lately. If I catch myself trying to box stuff up, I sit with it, look at it, release it. I don’t hang onto it, whatever “it” is. (Remember, I am not always successful at this, but I’m getting better at it.)

Maybe by putting fewer things in my “box”, and by keeping the lid off, I am making more space inside of myself. My interior world is more spacious because I am not hoarding so many hurts, worries, or negative belief systems.

Daddy’s box of photos

Published by dreambringer

Retired from a career in private practice psychology. Ordained to ministry in the United Church of Canada. Mother, grandmother, dreamer, writer.

4 thoughts on “A Bigger Box

  1. Very, very interesting read. I once entered into a weekend retreat titled “Open Up the Box”. I did not really know what the outcome would be but I enjoyed it immensely and feel that I grew from that weekend. My confused mind today does hold on to far too much, unkind words, feelings of sadness, confusion, etc., etc. The best part of all is that I am figuring life out, one day at a time, living one day at a time, doing my best at being more positive in this negative world. I have a much clearer vision of why my grandfather put his family in harms’ way in hopes of a better future for them. I have wonderful memories of my past and I do keep those memories dear and near to my heart. Life is so good and I am so very lucky and happy.

    You have given me food for thought today in this read and I enjoy your work so much. Thank you Alice for giving me the memory of that weekend fifteen years earlier. It was exceptionally valuable back then and it remains true today. Open up your box and see how it feels to be liberated. Perhaps you would like to do a weekend retreat sometime Alice on this very subject and let others in on how it feel to open up the Box. Have a super fine day!



  2. Alice I love your comments about those “little” dreams. Sometimes even those fragments, single moments or images, stand out so strongly that they stay with me for days. IWMD, my associations with the box illustrate the complex nuances that characterize a significant symbol. My father’s box holds memories, family history, treasures to be shared through generations. What to liberate from the box, and what to hold dear?


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