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

The above quote is from Oliver Wendell Holmes, a supreme court justice from 1902 – 1931. There are a couple things I really enjoy about the Gif above which cause me to think on a few points:

  1. The scene is pretty. A person is reading a book, perhaps expanding her imagination if it is fiction, or maybe expanding her knowledge of the world if it is a book on travel, philosophy, or life. The stars by her side reflect a sense of movement, like she is traveling as her mind is expanded from the knowledge she is gaining.
  2. It reflects a sense of calm and peace that can come from reading at night in a softly lit room. This time alone is a good time to reflect on past experiences, new desires, and a time to mediate and reset ourselves.
  3. Reading, the arts, and humanities are important aspects of our daily lives.

As Holmes wrote, a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. This is true of all experiences, whether good or bad. For example, a loss of a loved one is a horrible experience, but it’s an experience we will never and can never forget. But if we allow it, we can grow from it for the better. Another example is when traveling. I believe all people should travel as much as funds and time allows. Experience the world, other cultures, and people is a great way to expand our minds and grow as individuals. It also allows us to humanize other people and locations, which we would otherwise tend to be indifferent of because they are simply a name on a map without a face or eyes that we can look into, which make us realize a simple truth that is often forgotten: that we each have God given souls and a life worth caring for.  That we each go through the same emotions and struggles in this life like love, sadness, anger, and a desire to be at peace. I can think of no better way to expand our minds and experiences than by traveling to new places or putting our selves in situations where  we can interact with others, like volunteering at a soup kitchen. Reading is utterly important as well. Holding the pages of a book and using your imagination to make the pages come alive as you get lost in the story, is something that is truly an experience that expands our dimensions. Reading non-fiction to gain more knowledge of history and the world is also a way to expand our experiences and to understand the issues that affect us all.

As for my second point, alone time is absolutely necessary. This is the time you can be alone with your thoughts to express them as you wish without judgment from others. You can cry, mediate, relax, or anything that helps you to “reset” and collect your thoughts. Your alone time can be taking a walk alone, going to a quite cafe, going to the library, or sitting in your room reading a book or listening to music. Personally, I recommend an activity where no on else is around, like the girl in the Gif, alone in her room and reading a book. No distractions. Just her and her thoughts. Right now I am alone in my room, with just enough light to type, and listening to some soft classical guitar music. I do this every night. It helps me to relax and organize my thoughts. Even Jesus would go away from his disciples to be alone as He prayed. I imagine Christ also took this alone time to collect his thoughts and reflect on the day and the events to come in his life. Likewise, we need to do the same in order to reflect on our lives, those in it, and where we are headed in our journey through life.

Finally, as I’ve already pointed out, reading is important because it helps us to gain knowledge as well as use our imagination, which in turn can help us to relax by offering an escape from our daily lives. This is why that as much as I love reading non-fiction, I do enjoy fiction as well. Reading poetry, at least for me, is a stress reliever. While the arts and humanities don’t typically offer much in the form of a career or livable income, it is important to take part in learning about the arts and humanities. Art, like music or painting, is a way for us to express our selves. While the humanities like religion and philosophy is crucial in understanding life and our relationship with God and each other. I bring this point up because without a creative and imaginative person, the Gif above that prompted me to reflect on these points would not have been created. It took a person with a good imagination that took the time to learn the arts to create the beautiful image above. It is unfortunate that most cannot make a living in the arts and humanities since it seems so many people enjoy these subjects. but it is something we all can enjoy and grow in in our personal time. I’m learning to play classical guitar. I couldn’t afford a tutor, so I watch instructional videos online through Udemy, which is a site full of instructional videos.  While it’s been hard for me since I’m not the most gifted person in this regard, learning to play music has been an experience I wouldn’t trade. I love it.

So what are some of your new experiences? Have they caused you to expand your dimensions? Do you have a set alone time and if so, what do you think about?

I hope you find that alone time and use it to meditate and restore your spirit each and every time.