Thursday, October 3, 2013

Expanding Our Boundaries

Today is Thursday, October 3, 2013.

"A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."  –Oliver Wendell Holmes

This quote reminds me of the expression, "You can't go home again," the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe that was published posthumously.  In the book, a writer leaves his hometown and then writes a successful novel about the place where he grew up.  The hometown people don't like what the author wrote about them, and make it impossible for him to return to the place of his birth.  At the end of the book, the main character, George Webber, says, ""You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."

 The expression "you can't go home again" or "you can't go back home" entered the American lexicon and has come to mean that once a person has left the small town that he or she grew up in and spent time in the big city, it's impossible to return to a simpler, less sophisticated way of life. 

Another way to express this idea is from a song sung by Nora Bayes in 1919, after the U.S. soldiers came back home from World War I, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm / After they've seen Paree [Paris]?"  

Just as it is difficult to move into a smaller home when we are used to a larger space, so also is it hard to go back to the way things used to be when we have learned something new.  Our personal space and our worldview keep expanding.  We may have felt fearful at one time about going beyond a given boundary, but now, going back inside that same boundary feels like a limitation. 

How has your world enlarged in the last few years?  If you feel that it hasn't enlarged that much, ask yourself if you have allowed yourself to have any new experiences.  What can you do to expand the boundaries of your personal world?  :-)

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