Good things come in small boxes… and so does poison!

I sometimes ponder where the term ”to think outside the box came from?

Without any research my answer is this… what the hell was inside the box in the first place? I mean for the person who invented this phrase. What exactly was it that they did not wish to see or think about?

I am now envisaging people of a certain generation thinking, it must be Gwyneth Paltrow’s head!

We use the phrase to think ‘out of the box’ quite frequently when we are trying to generate new ideas and sometimes referencing this phrase makes us do the complete opposite.

I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking inside of it?

Terry Pratchett

Pratchett is indeed correct here. In order to think outside the box we must first think in it.

A box is where the possible can easily become impossible if we allow it too. Living breathing things should never be placed in a box.

No good comes from it. Do not place yourself in a box ever – unless it’s to get a party started and gatecrash out of it in style.

Now for a small memory that intrigues me greatly.

This was me as a child… god help my parents!

When my nephew Matthew was just 4 years old, he did something naughty in his preschool nursery group. It must have been bad because it required his teacher to evict him from the room, giving him some time to think upon his bold behaviour and cool off.

After less than ten minutes the assistant nursery leader came into the hallway finding Matthew acting very peculiarly. He wasn’t upset, far from it. It was as if he was in another world. He very soon demanded that she be completely silent and still. Breaking the spell she finally managed to get Matthew’s attention and asked him what on earth was going on? My nephew then informed her that there was quicksand everywhere around them and that if she moved even a millimetre they would both get sucked in. They were, in his mind – in Egypt!

So in less than ten minutes, Matthew had managed to process the upset from inside the classroom and fly in his mind (and body) to Cairo. Now if that’s not thinking outside the box quickly I don’t know what is!

I’ve been quite aloof so far on what this blog post is really about – and we still haven’t discovered exactly what is in the box?

The honest answer is, whatever we want to put in it.

Each of us pack boxes metaphorically and physically every day. Some gather dust. Some hide our emotions and sometimes we just put stuff away in the hope that it’s forgotten.

The voices inside my head may not be real, but they have some really good ideas!

A box can also be extremely versatile and if you have a good imagination you can turn a box into anything. Even a Magic case.

I am reminded briefly here of a story from my good friend Say Jay. On her birthday a gift was delivered in a very large, sturdy cardboard box. I’m sorry to say she was more excited about the box than the present inside for the simple reason that – she fit inside it! Don’t worry readers I won’t get her in trouble as in true Say Jay style she also declared her love of the box to this said friend.

Since the beginning of my career in magic I’ve always needed a carry case to cart my magic up and down the country safely. The most affordable one I found when I began performing was this metal tool case from B & Q (think Bauhaus or Home Depot) .

The Original case

Being artistic it wasn’t an option to perform my show with a case looking like this. So just before my very first booking I bought some spray paint, made a FizzWizzPop stencil and give the case a makeover. Across the 13 years I have been performing, my case has had many makeovers to keep it looking magical.

Remember: Your props and staging are a big part of your act too. If you look smart in a new suit or dress and your props look old and haggard the overall image doesn’t quite match up. So take a bit of time throughout a year reassessing, fixing up and making everything look tip top. It will pay off and you will feel and look more professional. Customers do notice the difference.

This weeks post and project became all about a box. Sadly I never met Terry Pratchett but I’m positive if he met me the phrase above would simply not apply to Nikola Arkane.

If we live in a world where we are only limited by our imaginations, why then does it have to be a box shape?

Don’t ever try to contain your thoughts. Especially within 4 walls, a bottom and a lid. Open it up and let it soar…


  1. The phrase is “big things come in small packages”, meaning don’t underestimate something based on its size..

    1. Thank you for your attempt and feeling the need to correct my title in this post.

      In Belfast there is a saying that “Good things come in small packages… and so does poison.” Due to the post content I changed the term ‘packages’ to boxes to fit as a play on that phrase. And actually it means be careful what you wish for.

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