Box of Fear

These are challenging times – and lately, I’ve been feeling a very strong urge to … leave where I am. To get into the car and start moving.

Where are you going, Amy?

I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.

I pull my car to the end of the driveway and I can’t decide which way to turn. Left toward town and my favorite cafe, my yoga studio? Or right, toward the thruway and keep driving?

Where are you going, Amy?

I don’t know.

I seem to be looking for something but the usual ‘somethings’ no longer satisfy. New workshop. New way of eating. New clothes. The light’s not right. The tea tastes stale.

What’s wrong? It’s as if I’m crouched low, watching, waiting. As if I’m preparing to escape. From what? It’s not this marriage. Not this home that we’ve made all these years. Not this friendship that’s started to chafe at my freedom…

It’s none of  that. It’s the world. It feels … different.

I get in the car to feel it out. To explore. Something is asking to move through me – and driving seems to be teaching me something about crossing from one place to another – across space, under sky. Something about being alive – and becoming real.

Yesterday, over breakfast, I told my husband about the “box of fear” and the morning when I realized: I can’t move. No matter which way I turn, there is something blocking me.

The box of fear encloses me completely – a chamber with no doors or windows. A dream image that’s crossed into waking life.

I started dreaming I was inside of a house with no exits and a lot of drama – and I needed to get out.

I dreamed this over and over. At first, it terrified me and I’d wake up gasping in the dark. Over time, as the dream repeated, the fear softened and I became curious.

I looked around the box. I became familiar with it’s ways, its shape and contours. This made me less afraid.

I began to experiment with my box. I discovered it was flexible and responsive to my thoughts. I discovered that by imagining a door I could conjure a door.

I imagined the roof dissolving and I saw the sky. I imagined windows and I saw the trees, the land.  I imagined filling my box of fear with new furniture. I changed the colors of the walls and expanded them outward.

I discovered that the box could be any way I wanted it. It was up to me,

Also, by then the box was no longer made of fear.

One night, I dreamed that I was outside the box, and there were other boxes – thousands of them, as far as the eye could see. I discovered I could enter (and leave) any box that I chose.

I experimented with this, dropping down into other ‘boxes’, entering into other stories and then, when I understood them, I’d lift up and out and return to my own familiar home box.

Over time, I realized, as you have certainly realized by now, that this series of ‘box’ dreams was teaching me things about the ‘box’ that I inhabit in waking life.

I began to experiment with changing things in real life.

I understood that both of these boxes – the box of fear and the one no longer made of fear – were mere images. They were ‘imaginative projections’ that I had built from the bricks and mortar of experience and cultural programming.

I wondered whether the same imaginative skills I had used to conjure doors in dreams might help me re-configure my ‘real world’ box. They did.

In this way, I discovered: I can change things. Even things that seem to be set in stone.

I started small. I moved furniture. I painted cabinets. One summer, my daughter and I designed a new living room. (Looking back, I laugh at the irony. I built a new ‘living room’. You get it?

I replaced lost buttons and restitched fallen hems. I went through every item I owned asking: Does this spark joy? If the answer was no, I let it go. If the answer was yes, I celebrated it. I began to feature joy. I made clusters of joy. Collections of joy.

Also, I was still driving, which led to the discovery of joy places – physical locations where I had rediscovered the connection to being alive.

And also, this other thing was happening. In my dreams, the walls of my dream box had begun to talk to me. Like I could hear this voice in the very walls of the structure. It’s hard to explain. Also, it’s not. You get it. I know you do.

When the walls began to speak, I really got it: the box was never made of fear. It was always a box of wisdom. What had changed wasn’t the box. What had changed was my relationship to it. I had stopped being afraid.

I understood.



All of us live inside the boxes of our own culture, our own beliefs, assumptions and fears about ourselves and about the world. The ‘box’ is a structure – made of psycho-spiritual cell tissue. It’s flexible. It’s a story. If you don’t understand this, ask me questions.

When you understand how this works, the whole world begins to speak to you – just like the walls of my dream box spoke to me. The whole world becomes a box of wisdom.

When I simply listen to what the walls say — it’s pure information and I realize that it’s being offered to help me. The box is trying to help me – and the walls are offering guidance, out of a protective, supportive devotion to my well-being.

From this orientation, the box of fear becomes a box of wisdom and I am enclosed within its walls.

When I experience it this way (by simply shifting my perspective toward it) I find myself walking through the world enclosed inside of a box (field) of wisdom. And this wisdom is made of love. Love for the world. Love for myself. Love for the box.

This is what the mystics tell us. It’s what the angels have been saying since they began speaking to me. The scriptures and sages of every faith on earth point to this: we are surrounded by love.

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