About Me

My photo
To listen to my latest recording, view my complete profile and then click on "audio clip" under "links"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Horse With No Box

Cliches often gain their initial traction because they contain some kernel of usefulness or truth. Then the words are repeated so frequently we stop hearing them. And then sometimes, a cliche so hoary it usually induces groans returns like a flash of light, begging us to pay attention.

"Thinking outside the box" probably began losing its luster for me in the 90's. Many of the training classes I conducted during those years had exercises designed to demonstrate how "thinking outside the box" enhanced creativity, managed stress, ensured world peace. Then several years ago, I began noticing how much more trouble I had reading music featuring notes above or below the staff. Not long after, I detected a similar difficulty among my guitar students. Soon it dawned on me - those higher and lower notes presented more challenge because they were not enclosed by a box, i.e. the staff.  But I quickly moved on, arrogantly leaving "thinking outside the box" buried in the cliche graveyard. Until yesterday.

I'm at the stable where I've worked as a volunteer for over three years. Until recently, a paddock about 100 feet square was contained by fencing. My task yesterday? To mow the old paddock area plus an area almost the same size adjacent to the old paddock; that second area hasn't had fencing for much longer and I assisted a while back to clear and seed it. So far, so good, right? I start mowing in that second area and when I get to the perimeter what happens? I turn the mower around and go back the other way. Back and forth I go in that second area three or four times before it occurs to me to continue on the mower (in a straight line!) to the old paddock area that used to be contained - as in, there was once a box. Except now, there is no box.

Thinking outside the box has now been officially resurrected - no italics, no quote marks to indicate ironic distance. Based on where this flash of light struck, I'm also re-considering that one about the horse returning to the barn, with Pat in the role of Mr. Ed.      

1 comment:

  1. Wow, talk about the power of habit! Charles Duhigg would be proud.