I am in a box.
It is four metres wide, three metres long, and two metres high. The box has a door, a window, and a light. There is a bed to sleep on. There is a cupboard filled with clothes. There are shelves stocked with things to do. There is a computer at a desk through which I can access the world. And there is me.
This box is a normal box. There are many others like it—some the same, others very different—but only this box is mine. People use their boxes for a variety of reasons. Like the boxes themselves, some people’s reasons are the same, while others’ are very different. I use my box for a variety of reasons as well. But my box does not work the same way as others’ boxes do.
The door is able to be opened, but I cannot open it. There are things beyond the window, but I cannot see them. The light either shines starkly or not at all, and I cannot control which. The bed is warm and soft, but I cannot sleep within it. The cupboards contain numerous garments with which to clothe myself, but I cannot choose from them. The shelves house plenty of entertainment, but I cannot partake in any of it. The computer screen can show me anything I could imagine, but I cannot tell it my requests.
I am told I should be grateful to have my box. Many people in the world do not have a box big enough for them, or shaped correctly, or in some cases, not at all. Others work hard just to be able to come back to their box at the end of the day and do it all again the next. In that respect, I am grateful to have my box. But I am always wondering why my box doesn’t work the same way as others’ boxes do.
Some people use their boxes when they are happy. I cannot. Some people use their boxes when they are sad. I cannot. Some people use their boxes when they are angry. I cannot. My box simply does not respond to me as others’ boxes do for them. It is problematic for me both in that my box does not respond as it should and that I do not know why it does not. Or, perhaps, I do not know how others’ boxes do so.
People have asked me why I do not make use of my box as they do. I am at a loss to tell people how this is a problem. When they look at my box, they see the door, the window, the light, the bed, the cupboards, the shelves, the desk, and they see that it is no different to their own. When I tell them that I cannot use those things as I should, they cannot understand how it is not possible for me, and even do it themselves to show me just how possible it is. And yet, when I try it myself, I am forever met with failure.
Does my box simply dislike me? Does it intentionally withdraw from me and my attempts to interact with it? Does it intentionally allow others to interact with it simply to spite my existence within it? I have seen for myself that others’ boxes do not have this critical design flaw. I have seen for myself that all of the expected interactions one would expect between and box and its resident are able to be performed when the resident in question is not me. Why, then, am I rejected so?
It is as if this box has been closed to me. There is not necessarily a person who has issued this command, or an action of mine that has earned this as a restriction, or an alteration to the box to prevent my interaction with it. Nor can I specify precisely when this closure occurred. I am certain that I was once able to interact with my box just as everyone else does. Any attempt of mine to ascertain when or how this shift manifested is similarly met with failure.
So then I am trapped in a box with a problem I cannot comprehend—whose origin I cannot remember—a question I cannot answer—which in turn cannot be understood by others—and everyone else who cannot see what I am seeing. What use is there in knowing that something is wrong if I cannot know what that something is? What use is there in others knowing that my box exists if those others cannot see that there is something wrong with it?
It is cause for great consternation. This is an inescapable labyrinth of indeterminate nothings. How can I even be trapped within that which does not confine me? How can I be plagued by that which does not sicken me? Everything within my box appears to be fine, yet I know that it isn’t and that contradiction simply sends me walking in circles. I yearn for the days when life within my box was as it should be, but all I can see—whether ahead of or behind me—are those days when it hasn’t been.
It makes me want to destroy my box. To just get rid of it all, rip it apart, return it to the nothingness that it may as well be now. If I could simply erase my box and start over, perhaps next time I could construct one which operates according to the expected parameters. Perhaps then I will be able to open the door, see out the window, switch the lights, sleep in the bed, select from my clothes, make use of entertainment, or browse what my heart desires.
Yes, that is the only solution I see. If my box will not work as it should, if I will not be able to know why, if others will not be able to see where there is a problem, then I must erase the whole thing. My box, and everything within it. Only then can I ensure that whatever problem has besieged my box will be erased as well. It is an unfortunate conclusion, it should be said. I will miss this box. But this is my only choice. And so I begin.
It is a difficult task to accomplish. Though I have my goals set in my mind, it takes a great deal of effort to move my hands and enact them. It is as if everything in my box is resisting my attempts to erase it: the door, the window, the light, the bed, the cupboards, the shelves, the desk, and even my own being. But that resistance is trifling compared to the resistance I have been shown when merely attempting to go about my daily life.
Ripping and tearing. Smashing and crushing. Breaking and hurting. I do it all. Every possible action that can serve to tear apart my box. It crumbles with each movement, falling apart at the seams. Each of those components that have so callously rejected me cry out in pain and fear as I, in turn, reject them. I will not have this door. I will not have this window. I will not have this light. I will not have this bed. I will not have this cupboard. I will not have these shelves. I will not have this desk. I will not have this box.
Finally, there is nothing left of it. A crowd of a great many people is gathered around the place where my box used to be. They are all confused, reacting in unusual ways to this unusual practice. So they should. They could not have known what this box was doing to me. To them, this is a complete shock. Unprecedented, unexpected, unable to be understood. Something from nothing, out of nowhere, and for an unknown reason. Much like the scourge my box was unleashing on me.
That crowd begins to cry. Have my efforts impacted them so? Have they finally come to understand my plight? But as I look at each person within the crowd, I see that they are not looking at my box. It as if the box is not even there—or, more accurately, since it is not in fact there, that it was not there to begin with. No, what that crowd is looking at is me. But the way they look at me is not as I expect. They do not look at my eyes as I look at theirs. It seems they are looking at the rest of me.
I look at myself too. What I see is not my chest, followed by my torso, waist, legs and feet, as one would expect when standing, looking down at themselves. I do see those parts of myself, but not from the perspective I should be seeing them. Instead, my body lies crumpled in the centre of my box, similarly eviscerated and oozing bloody crimson.
How can this be? How can I be standing here, looking down at myself lying there? It doesn’t make sense. The crowd breaks formation and moves towards my other self. Touching me. Shaking me. Begging me to open my eyes. But my eyes remain shut. I remain in position as I am removed from this place. Contemplating. Days and nights pass in sequence as I consider what has occurred. Eventually, I realise: I said I would destroy my box and everything within it. I was also within my box. Therefore, I have also destroyed myself.
That is the cruel irony of my circumstance. Existing within a box, desperate for that box to be like others’ and yet being denied. Unable to explain how I am denied, be it to myself or to others. Desiring to be free of that box, and yet never being able to see the day that it is shattered. That is my circumstance. That is the circumstance I have inflicted on that crowd. And that is the circumstance that is my legacy—a shadow cast over me as I am lowered into my final resting place. Of course, in this circumstance, there is only one situation in which I can be:
I am in a box.