Exploring The Private Sea

Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade but of thought.  Every man is lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

The stories of great explorers of history never fail to fascinate and inspire us.  By venturing into the unknown, over land and sea and even beyond the bounds of planet Earth, these courageous risk-takers opened up new worlds and immeasurably enriched our lives.

Exploration is not an enterprise for only a few adventurous souls, as the ancient philosophers of many traditions knew well.  The pursuit of self-knowledge was considered the most noble, and challenging, of human activities. According to the Greek writer Pausanias, the aphorism "Know Thyself" (Gnothi Seauton), was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Socrates expanded on this maxim, teaching that the unexamined life was not worth living. The Chinese master Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, “To know others is wisdom; to know one’s self is enlightenment.” And Proverbs 4:23 admonishes “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Thoreau echoes these sentiments in the concluding chapter of Walden:

If you would learn to speak all tongues and conform to the customs of all nations, if you would travel farther than all travellers,….even obey the precept of the old philosopher and Explore Thyself.  Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve.

To experience all that life has to offer, you must leave the shores you know and head for new horizons of personal growth and self-awareness. Without a willingness to take this risk, in spite of fear and uncertainty, you resign yourself to a life of mediocrity in a familiar port of call.

Pulling away from the dock and setting sail for the life of your dreams takes courage. Out beyond your comfort zone, you might encounter turbulent squalls and intimidating waves. But with each challenge you meet, you will be a step closer to discovering new people, new opportunities and a fulfilling life rich with possibility.

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