Monday, April 22, 2013

Boxes can't hold us, or God

A Box by King's X
Lonely days will come and go,
nothing new unless you're bold,
revolution #19
brand new wave of anger
Stain yourself with pumpkin pie,
liquid tattoo I got mine,
don't forget forgetfulness,
call it Deconstruction
There is no room inside a box,
there is no room inside.
Way down in the deep depress,
colder than the coldest yes,
we all know of loneliness
others to another,
just a place to run and hide
just a place to free your mind,
just a place to break the chains
and find whatever matters
There is no room inside a box,
there is no room inside.
When I first heard this song, I was going through a deconstruction, of sorts, questioning my faith and all the things I was raised to believe as Truth. From what I know about Doug Pinnick, the singer for King's X, I know that he was struggling with these same Truths. That could be what led him to write this song, but I cannot be sure.
To me, this song talks about the futility of trying to hem God in. It reminds me that you cannot place the Infinite in some tiny little box that fits your puny understanding of things greater than yourself. I don't pretend to have God figured out. In fact, it's the mystery of the Divine that keeps me interested in the pursuit of knowledge and experience.

More than just a statement on God or faith, however, I believe the lyrics also speak to the deconstruction of one's self. Others may try to box us in, but the human spirit cannot be contained in tiny little containers, either. In fact, our bodies don't even do a very good job of hemming us in. Ever been around someone with a contagious smile or giggle? Or been around someone who is so charismatic, he/she enhances the atmosphere around them? I believe that is the spirit of the person leaking out of every pore of their body. It cannot be contained.

Yet, we are all guilty of trying to capture, analyze and label everyone like scientists. We want to fit everyone into tiny little boxes we can categorize and file away. And when they don't behave in the way we have preordained, then something must be wrong with them. We want God and others to fit in neat, rectangular boxes that we can carry and stow away for safekeeping.

How do those same boxes make us feel? Confined? Clausterphobic? Not understood?

That's where this song hits me the most. I don't want to be confined inside the small box of someone else's understanding. Unless they really get to know me or walk a mile in my shoes, they can't possibly understand me.

Boxes are confining. And unless we open the box of our small thinking, we'll continue to misunderstand others and the world.

I know from experience that my small thinking has caused me to be surprised by the world, and not always in a good way. When I thought I had things figured out--analyzed, categorized and arranged into boxes I could handle--I was thrown for several loops.

But back to the idea that our spirits--the essential part of who we are--cannot be contained in tiny boxes. I was recently reminded of this when I took part in the burial of my girlfriend's mother.

Her cremains were delivered to us in a small, retangular, black box. It wasn't Jean. It was just the ashes that her physical body had been reduced to. That body had not contained Jean for 10 days. Her spirit no longer dwelled there. And so when her ashes were placed in that box and we placed it in the ground, the lyrics of this song came back to me. "There is no room inside a box." There is no way that little black box could contain all that Jean was, her essence. That certainly lives on in some way, either in the spiritual world or in the hearts of her two children and grandchildren. The fact is, that box did not contain Jean. Her spirit was much too big for her own body, let alone that little box containing her ashes.

It served to remind me that I am more than this mortal body. And in the same way that I cannot be contained in some box, neither can God and neither can others. I need to keep my mind unboxed, as well, so that I can more easily accept new things and ideas. I can even accept that my girlfriend doesn't fit into the box that I try to contain her in. I can let others simply be who they are and accept the little surprises that life throws my way from time to time.

It's important to remember, "there is no room inside."