Think Outside

Although it’s become common parlance for people when problem-solving, to say, “we need to think outside of the box,” I hear those words and can’t help but wonder, “what box?” If we know there’s a box, surely we can see and think outside of it just as well as inside.

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This past winter when I was in Georgia visiting family, my sister took me to visit a monastery in Athens, the home of a small group of Cistercian monks. One of the elder monks is a Bonsai Master and the grounds are filled with his lovely little trees. In the garden store they sell a lot of specialty items for the growing and caring of Bonsai trees along with other gardening supplies. They also sell t-shirts with gardening themes, which is where I found the one whose image you see here. It’s my favorite t-shirt!

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When I was 13, I had a friend who wrote poetry, a sensitive soul, the first person I met who asked big questions about the world, and life. Those questions came at me as if they were resurfacing from deep inside of me, now bubbling up as if all of my life they had been anchored somewhere deep within my heart. It was exhilarating to contemplate for the first time the bigness of the world, realizing how many more questions there were that I had not yet asked. The journey had begun, or I had at last found the right journey. Eventually, I have realized over the years, a journey that never stops.

I still love poetry and enjoy reading old favorites as well as poems from friends here on WordPress. William Stafford, who in his later years lived not too far from where I live in Oregon, was a wonderful poet who I return to again and again for that big feeling that makes me think and feel inside and outside. Here is one of my favorites of his. I hope you like it.

“Counting lambs, counting sheep
We will fall into sleep
And we awake to a new day of living
And loving you so.” Ian Anderson

25 thoughts on “Think Outside

  1. Thanks for sharing that poem, very profound!

    Personally, growing up I was “proud” to be an “out of the box thinker”. Now as I’m growing up I’m realizing why do we even impose that limitation on our minds? Why even place this metaphorical box into the equation. Thinking is a power,a tool and a gift and as long as we allow our minds to explore and expand that’s the true gift. It shouldn’t be classified or refined to in or out of the box. It should just be.


  2. Touched very deeply – I am – through the powerful trap door sub terrain truth this poem evokes, overlapping with your words and Jethro Tull (whom I haven’t heard in years) All the precious pieces turn into a nourishing soul soup. hello there, my first visit here – wonderful!


    1. Thank you Marga! Your kind words mean very much to me. Was just reading your blog and am equally touched by your recounting of your daughter’s troubles. I was that child and am so happy to hear that she is finding her way and not getting sucked in to the temptation of diagnosis. Life can be hard, it is good to have allies.
      Looking forward to reading more of your writing…


      1. Thank you, Debra, for making the connection to my daughter’s journey. My gut has been that these things that have been so very challenging, connect with her greatest strengths. She is a soul who recognizes what is not Okay and she is not going to take life lying down. Good things. I look forward to the chance to explore your writings. Marga


  3. Rex

    This “think outside the box” refers to logical and practical thinking which has not much correlation with human sagacity and wisdom. Stafford’s poem reflects the latter kind of thinking where one feels as if one is living with inner eyes awake. It was a similar thought that made me say once that “thinking is living” (in my aphorisms.)

    In the poem itself, I don’t quite understand what “errors of childhood” and “circus won’t find the park” mean. The last verses are simply the best.


    1. Hi Rex. “Thinking is living.” Yes, I take that to mean, the connection between psyche and soma, body and mind is what we live through, or there isn’t really any division except the one we imagine to be there.
      As for the mysteries of the meanings of the poem, I will leave those alone, for we probably see each image in slightly different ways.
      Thank you so much for leaving a note, 🙂


      1. Rex

        Deb, I wasn’t getting any notifications again! Missed out on all the new posts hence. I re-subscribed to you so this should work. Let’s see.


    1. To Erik and Symbol Reader,
      Thanks for leaving a note!
      Back in the 90’s,I was able to attend a couple of conferences where James Hillman, Robert Bly and Michael Meade told stories, spoke about current cultural issues and hashed out ideas, each from their perspective. Michael Meade would often read Stafford’s poems. That is where I first heard and fell in love with them. Glad you liked the poem.


  4. I wanted to say thank you and to let you know that the last post I just out up on my little blog happened because of you! I had gone out to my car to head to the bookstore on a spontaneous hunt for the Hillman book you just featured on a post. I had not planned to go out today as we have been a bit under the weather at our home this past week (hubby finally lost his voice yesterday… throats & ears ouchy, etc). If I hadn’t gone out, a gift from my sister could have sat out in the elements for days! Living in the heart of the city, one tends to walk more often and if I am feeling well, I would have usually walked to the bookstore, too!

    I returned home without the Hillman (it is on order), but did pick up a Sogyal Rinpoche I have had my eye on.

    Thank you for the little peek into your world here and for including the deeper meaning dive as well. Aren’t sister’s wonderful?!



    1. Sorry to hear that you’re family is under the weather, but yes, happy that your sister’s gift was rescued.
      Thank you so much for the kind words and leaving them here at my doorstep! It means a lot.
      Yes, sisters are wonderful! My big sister especially, but all our sisters everywhere!


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