“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
We all have those times in our life when a ball starts rolling, pieces start falling into place and big changes happen. I unknowingly kicked off some really big life changes in 2015, with a trip to Hawaii. It seems innocent enough, a second honeymoon in a tropical oasis. Little did I know, that going on vacation would plant desires for a different kind of lifestyle and seeds of change that are still growing now, two years later. There were so many new experiences for me on my first Hawaii trip, but the one that absolutely stands out the most is swimming with the dolphins.
Swimming with the Dolphins
We first saw the dolphins while we were on a snorkeling tour. They were swimming up to and playing in the wake of the boat. Once the boat captain gave the go ahead, it took us all of 30 seconds to put our snorkeling gear on and dive into the water. It was amazing to be in the deep ocean water swimming with the dolphins. Looking down, all I could see were rays of sunlight disappearing into the darkness, and dolphins swimming up out of the deep. Some of the dolphins played with us at the top of the water. They were swimming around, teasing, and darting in & out of us awkward swimmers.
In the quiet of the water all you could hear is your breath and the chatter of the dolphins. I can still feel the excitement now, just reminiscing about it.
Moment of Change
In that moment, of swimming with the dolphins, all of the Should Do’s & Should Be’s of my life dissolved away into the ocean.
In that moment my mind lost all sense of boundaries and confinements. I tasted true freedom.
In that moment I found meditation. I was one with myself, the universe and the whole world around me.
At that moment, I had no clue how profound this experience was for me. However, it became a powder keg of change just waiting for a spark. The spark arrived a few months later with some family circumstances that we couldn’t ignore.
Before we took that trip to Hawaii, I had a very practical, drab picture in my head of what life was going to be like for the next decade or so. It included living in the practical house, in the practical town, and working at the practical job. Before I could be open to the changes that were about to occur, I needed to open up some room in my mind. Swimming with the dolphins was just one of many experiences on that amazing trip to Hawaii that opened my mind to some pretty incredible and surprising life changes.
Over the last two years I went from living in the practical house in the practical town, to living in a nicer house in a much smaller community. I was able to experience the freedom of working from home, while continuing in my “practical job” for another year, which further stretched my mind to accept even more options for living a life of my choosing, not of previously mandated expectations.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
― T.E. Lawrence,
When we live our lives drudging from day to day, we shrink our minds and close any doors to new experiences that may come our way. By going out and having any kind of new experience, we stretch our minds and become open to new opportunities for life. While going on vacation in Hawaii and swimming with the dolphins is a fairly extreme example of experiences that can open the doors for change, life changing experiences can actually be much simpler. You can change your life, and open your doors, just by making an effort to have some new experiences. Try some new cuisine, play tourist in your own town or read a book with a new topic…you can even just use your imagination and daydream. Imagine what could be, instead of focusing on what seems to be.