Step Away from the Box

Hi all. It’s been a while, and I’ve missed writing for you. There is a lot of great stuff out there right now about how to avoid the resolution trap, and how to gain some momentum as you move into this new year. I’m not going to duplicate that. Instead, I am going to kick off the year by sharing a story with you about my holiday season. Here we go:

I have nieces and nephews in a few other states, and I have children who are outgrowing their early toys. So, when faced with a beloved riding toy that my son hasn’t touched in a year, I didn’t want to just donate it or sell it. Instead, I wanted it to stay in the family. I asked my brother if my three-year-old nephew would like it. I got a strong yes, so I was off to the shipping store to send it on its way. Now, I may have procrastinated a bit, so it might have been the week before Christmas when I made it to the store. Also, I may have gotten fed up with the procrastinating, so I may not have packed the toy before bringing it.

The nice man at the shipping store measured it for me. It was 27 inches long. He said, “I have a 28 inch cube that would fit that.” Now, if you are a non-spatial person like me, a 28 inch cube sounds reasonable. So I said yes to the box. He proceeded to build a box large enough to pack several small children (this has since been verified), and cushioned the toy in a small tree’s worth of packing paper. This was a long process. I assumed that this startlingly large box (really, 28 inches is BIG!!) might be a bit pricey to ship. However, I did not realize that my final shipping total was going to be more than the toy cost brand new–by a long shot.  When he gave me the number, I choked a bit, and then said, “I can’t do that.”

By this time, the box was solidly packed.  I thought that, if I could get it out of there, I might find a more reasonable shipping option.  Sadly, even with the help of the nice man from the shipping store and a dolly, the box wouldn’t fit into my little car.  In fact, the box was nearly half as big as my little car.  So I called for reinforcements, and the box was eventually collected by my brother, who has a pickup.

Upon doing a bit more research, I learned that my initial shipping bid was the lowest I was going to find for that box.  I was beginning to think that I would be carrying the toy to Chicago the next time we visited when my mom said, “I know a guy.”  Her “guy” was a business contact, and he had mentioned to her that he could do some shipping.  So, in desperation, I called her guy.  He listened patiently to my story (I’m sure he thought I was a little bit off), and then said, “Well, in a box that size, you are going to pay an oversize fee.  I might be able to put it into one of our standard shipping boxes. Why don’t you bring it down?”  He then gave me a price quote that was approximately 20% of the original quote.

At this point, I had been dealing with the issue of the box for two hours.  I was in tunnel-vision mode.  I was hatching an elaborate plan for how I would leave the box where it was, fetch my own minivan, and drive it downtown later on.

Maybe by now, you can see the flaw in this story. Can you?

Because people who weren’t in my tunnel-vision mode could see it.  The “guy” had offered a different box.  The contents of the box had fit just fine in my tiny car before I had them put in the box.  I didn’t actually have to take the box anywhere.  All I had to do was open it up and take out the toy.

I offer you this story of my own tunnel-vision moment as a New Year’s gift.  Are there any boxes that you’re stuck with?  Is there a way to shift the perspective so that the box is easier to manage? Can you walk away from your box entirely?  Because, once you step away from the box, life is infinitely easier.

Do you have your own “box” moment that you’d like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments.

P.S. The box turned out to be a marvelous addition to Christmas morning–and it will easily accommodate several kids and one slender adult. 😉



  1. Anne,
    Luv your metaphor for life. Mostly, I like how you genuinely care about others.

    Thanx friend,

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