Thinking Outside of the Box

A life of enslavement is a life I can't imagine myself actually leading, yet African Americans suffered this fate not too long ago for a very long time. They had to think long and hard about how to exist without succumbing to the cruel and unjust treatment they were forced to endure - or how to escape it. Both were extremely difficult, but one particular slave decided enough was enough. He carefully pondered and discovered an idea that was most creative, unorthodox, and definitely ‘outside of the box’ for a way to gain his freedom. In 1849, Henry "Box" Brown actually boxed and mailed himself in a wooden crate to freedom from Richmond, VA to the anti-slavery office in Philadelphia, PA. The successful delivery took 26 hours, and “Box” later became a public speaker and abolitionist. The strength, courage, imagination, determination, and intelligence it took to develop and employ such a thought was and continues to be a true inspiration.

No physical escape from MS

Fast forward to nearly 200 years later... The need arose for me, too, to think very hard and make some tough decisions in my life. I'm not a slave, but rather a victim - of Multiple Sclerosis. My choice is similar: I had to think long and hard on how to exist without succumbing to the cruel and unjust symptoms that I'm forced to endure - or learn how to escape. Knowing that there was no box or other physical escape from my circumstances - the despondency, despair and depression a life with MS can potentially bring - I, too, had to think ‘outside of the box’. Like Mr. “Box” Brown, I had to decide how to live and not simply exist.  

Perception is key

My thought is that perception is key. I can't ignore my life challenges, but I can shift my focus from them to concentrating all that I can do, what makes me happy, and mentally remove myself from a focus on the perils of MS. Creatively finding what to do or ways around all of the things I am now unable to do. Drawing from the same well of strength, courage, imagination, determination, and intelligence that “Box” utilized and left as an inspiration so many years later.

Ideas outside the box

There are no concrete instructions that we can depend on to navigate our way through life. We may have parents, grandparents, mentors, life coaches, therapists, etc. to give us guidance, insight, and support, but ultimately, our experiences are our own to manage. Great thought, compromise, and creativity are often in order. The correct, most effective, appropriate, and best decisions, however successful they may be, don't always come easy nor without a great deal of effort, as shown by Mr. “Box” Brown’s story in my ode to Black History. It's just important to acknowledge and not discount that ideas ‘outside of the box’ in life can prove to be invaluable when discovering ways to manage life with a chronic degenerative disease.

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