We all live in a box that we create. It is built upon our thoughts and feelings and ultimately our world view.
You know how your 5th grade best friend turned into an enemy in 6th grade? And maybe she was a different ethnic background than you. The logical conclusion for many children that young is to blame the "outward" characteristics of a person, like ethnicity, and not see the fact that maybe they were going through their own shit at home and acting out. Your parents probably did not help matters when you arrived home with a bloody lip and had to explain. The first thing they said was, "You've got to be careful of (fill in the blank) people because they are different from you".
So, from that point on you might have a more negative opinion of people that look like that friend turned enemy. I know that's crazy because it happened over twenty years ago. But it's still there in the back of your box, filed under "things that shaped how I view others".
It's so complicated at times; It can include: how you see yourself, how you think others see you, what makes you think of other people in a certain way, your beliefs, your assumptions, your secrets, your preferences, your habits, your roles, your parents, your neighborhood, the friends and enemies throughout your life, moments of illumination and clarity, new experiences, memories and the knowing that memories are not reliable after a while. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. All it takes is one moment to form an experience that is always with you.
I think it is good to occasionally be reminded that we are in a box. Usually this happens when we realize we've stepped outside of ours for a moment. Of course, the box expands to include this too. So I guess it's better for our box to be in a more or less continual state of expansion and revision. Think of it like rearranging furniture. Quite appropriate for my house, actually, because we rearrange things every few months to make room for new items and with them, new ideas and possibilities.
I was inspired this evening because I had finished dinner and wanted something sweet. As a last resort, I reached for a box of instant Jello Chocolate Pudding. This pudding was not something I would normally eat, it was a gift from a family member, but I was on the verge of craving chocolate. I had never made instant pudding and I picked a bowl too small to mix it in. It made a huge mess. And when I saw the mess and just let it go... it was the most free feeling I've had in a while!