I tend to gravitate towards small contained areas that completely enclose me, otherwise known as boxes, squares, or rectangles. As a child, when my mom could not find me in the house, she would open the closet and there I would be nestled against three walls sleeping soundly. My favorite room in the world is in my cottage in Canada, a narrow rectangular room that barely fits a single bed and dresser. There is something about small confined spaces that makes me feel safe. This is probably why I love my studio in NYC. It is small...like really small, but there's something about it that brings me relief when I walk in it. There are no surprises. I can walk in, peer around from my stairwell, through my doorway, and ensure that no stranger lurks in an unseen place.
Unfortunately, my tendency towards straight geometrical patterns is what I most dislike about my self. Because not only do I physically find myself confined by small places, but I find myself living many days in a box. I think the same thoughts, I walk the same route to work, I eat the same food. I have the same weekly meetings and get-togethers. I'm living my days just like they're displayed on my calendar--in little tiny boxes, but with a different number for a different day.
And besides the squareness of my days, I am forced to spend most of my days staring into the damned glowing box of a computer screen. The Onion recently just had an article that headlined "90% of Waking Hours Staring at Rectangles." This is probably not completely statistically accurate, but it's not too much of an exaggeration either. This is frightening.
Stupid Squares and Rectangles! They rule our lives! We even force the vastness of the mind's creativity into them. Like now, in this moment, I'm trying to capture my intangible thoughts on life and fit them into the "posting box" of this website that falls within my rectangular computer screen. And when I paint, I find myself painting on a square canvas. And when I take a picture, it prints out onto rectangle paper and I try to preserve the memory in a rectangle frame. And when I write, whether it be poetry or a legal opinion, I print it out on the rectangular paper. Even the world's best novels are contained to little boxes full of print.
Is no one else bothered by this?! Is there some type of conspiracy out there to confine our lives to boxes? Is it not ironic to anyone else that the limitless nature of creativity is often expressed on the limited nature of a square? How can these limits not, at least on some subconscious level, affect us?
Regardless of whether the conspiracy exists, my constant daily struggle is to accept the confines of physically small places, but to seek vast spaces. Though we are already inherently contained by the limits of our bodies, the joy in the metaphysical is that our hearts and minds transcend their physical organs. Our thoughts, expressions, and creativity are free and spacious. They only become contained when we decide to place artificial limits on them. I want to fight to free my mind from these limits (even if it feels less safe). I'm pretty sure my deep cravings for the ocean reflect this desire. I take comfort in the ocean not only because it is beautiful, but because it is vast. Because when I look at it, I do not see limits. I do not see boxes or squares or confinement. I see endless motion and expansiveness. It is a vast space of unboxable life. And this is how I want to live--oceanically.
I don't want to be put in a coffin when I die (do you hear this, family?) I went to cremated and spread into Lake Erie. It will be my last (and surely my most successful attempt) to be free from the confines of a physical box.