I’m going to quote a book…

The book: A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All Black High School Rowing Team

The Author: Arshay Cooper

The Premise: Memoir by one of the members of America’s first all black rowing team

The back story to the quote: Cooper is in a barber shop and begins a conversation with the gentleman next to him

The Quote: (as said by the older gentleman to Cooper)- “Listen to me, young man. I went to Europe and while I was there I saw somebody from the West Side of Chicago. He was blown away to see me. That man told me this is really a small world, but I told him he was wrong. I said ‘If you look at the map, it’s huge. This is a big world we live in, but you and I chose to expand.'”

Do you choose to expand?

Or do you choose to stay the same?

For the record, I have no problem with doing things the same way. I have lived in the same place for 20+ years. I wear the same type of clothes, I don’t constantly need to buy the most new and updated things…


I’m constantly trying to expand my mind.

I try different foods. Read different genres. Go to places that I’ve never been. I am a student of the world around me and I plan to continually learn and grow and adapt and, if necessary, change…I am not the same person I was when I was 18. I am not the same person I was at 37. I am not the same person I was at 56. I have no doubt that a year from now I will be a different person.

I’m OK with all of that.

I embrace growth. I embrace learning new things. I am very willing to change my mind if I learn enough about another way of doing things. You read that here first: I will change my opinion if given good information about doing things another way.

So my question to you is:

Do you seek to expand your mind? (or like me, your waistline because you try new foods…)

Why or why not?

Is there something you were unsure about doing but ended up enjoying it? For me, I am scared of falling, so I was unsure about taking a ride in a hot air balloon. But, I will tell you that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Scared? Sure. Glad I did it? 100%.

To expand or not to expand…what’s the actual question…

71 thoughts on “Big Small World

  1. I am a lot like you. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood since 1995. I don’t buy new things. I do read different books. I try new foods. I’ve traveled to many places I never thought I would go. I went parasailing even though I have a fear of heights and water and it was great. I don’t get the people who are content to stay in the same place mentally, physically and spiritually.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This post reminds me of something my Ma said years ago. When I was in the throes of babies/toddlers etc…I came up for air and felt like “My world is getting narrower and narrower”. Ma chimes in with:
    “Then make it bigger!”
    I can still hear her – Man, I miss Ma.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I’m pretty set in my ways for a lot of things. But I also find getting older, there’s more willingness to try new things or explore new ideas. I don’t know if that’s common in middle age, but I think maybe we start to think about the time we have left and how we want to spend it.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m adventurous in what I know I like… does that make sense? Am I going to bungee jump off of a bridge- NO, because heights. Yuck. Am I going to take a class in a subject that interests me or that I would like to explore more- YES, because I love learning. I will expand to a point and am up for trying new things…within reason 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m saying that’s perfect because it’s exactly what I do. I’m taking a drawing class at Brooklyn botanic garden in a few weeks. It’s a little out of my comfort zone but still in my wheelhouse

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was dating back in my fifties, people bandied about that trite saying “interested and interesting”. It may have been trite, but it was so on point. It was never a successful match for me with someone who’d no interest in learning or experiencing anything new and who didn’t have a big brain they liked to stretch. That doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with them, simply that we weren’t a good match. There’s no doubting they’d find someone like themselves to be happy with.

    In short, I choose to expand, but I accept that it’s not for everyone… and I leave them to it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. If you take it back to the earliest stages of man’s development, they couldn’t all journey far & wide, there had to be some to tend the homes fires. I imagine it’s a development of that split.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful piece of wisdom of choosing to expand yourself. I’m grateful to my mom and grandparents for taking me and my brother to museums. Sometimes I was bored with history stuff, but other times I was fascinated (especially in the Air and Space Museum). I’m sure those many visits triggered my curiosity to wonder about things out there in the world. My wife and I continued that tradition by taking our daughters to museums in Washington, DC. It was beautiful to watch the wonder on their faces as we saw various items in the Natural History Museum 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My daughter said she was a little bored as a kid in museums, but now, she’s a huge history and art fan, so she’s glad we always went. FYI….love the DC museums!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am like that also. I haven’t worked at the same place for the past 20 years but in the same field. There is always something to learn. I like change and I also think about updating the clothes if only to view my size.


  8. I try to keep current and up to date on technology, world politics, fashion, and on everything, actually. I also love remembering and researching historical events of the past since I feel knowing and understanding history helps us understand our present and our future.
    I like change but I also have my niche. I’m a jeans girl. My favorite music tends to be rock of the 60’s and 70’s, I’m still a free spirit like I was in the 1960’s. But I’m more current and up to date on technology than most of my friends.
    I guess I think I’m a composite of decades.
    Because I have a design background I enjoy fashion. But I’m aware of what I can and can’t (or probably should not) wear at my age. Lol. I despise matronly clothing and think I’m fashion forward for 72. I like creativity in clothing. But a sense of style is ageless. I’m not about fads. But I don’t like boring.

    I think we all should try to keep current and as updated as possible. After all, what’s the point in living if we don’t take advantage of all that life offers.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree with everything you said. We can all have things that we love and return to because they really speak to us. But as well as having the tried and true, what’s wrong with learning about different things. I have a friend who specifically only listens to 70s music. Now, I love 70s rock. However, I don’t want to listen t9 it exclusively

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was just thinking yesterday about how travel is such a great way to expand your mind and help you see that “other people “ are not as different from you as you might have thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have tried new things, but kind of slowed down during the shutdown. Prior to the shutdown I joined a swim team (as an almost non swimmer, but fierce swim mom.) I learned how to breathe, dive off the blocks and entered the Masters National swim meet! I also have a huge fear of public speaking, yet I traveled to Sacramento and spoke about swim parenting to the parents of a team. The coach read my SwimSwam articles and invited me! At the Nationals meet, I had my daughter at my side. At the talk I gave, my son was with me. They were so encouraging.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. EXPAND – YES! No Doubt that’s my vote! Mind expansion is key to growth, especially personal development. I love to talk with people, to learn about their stories, and what makes them tick. I enjoy trying new things as well, even though I may not like them (certain foods). But getting out of my comfort zone is hard for me, but I’ve found it to be very rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oooooo…hot air balloon ride is on my bucket list. In addition to the personal knowledge and satisfaction of learning more, expanding our mind is the only thing that will keep us mentally sharp as we age! Closed off people who refuse to consider other points of view run the risk of mental atrophy. I used to joke that if I was to make a tee-shirt for myself it would read: (front: Out of my comfort zone; Back: All the time.) Now, out of my comfort zone is sorta normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love people, and I’m still exploring those that cross my path. Everyone has a story of becoming the person he is. No two are alike, and some are inspiring. I love discovering what is behind the facade and verbally appreciating the person I see.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have learned multiple tasks, projects and departments in over 20 years at my job, in the past I took dance, acting, voice acting, art, sign language, drumming classes. I like to try all kinds of food, I used to live kind of mundane despite trying and doing many different things..I mostly either went to the movies or minor league baseball games, after meeting my wife we started traveling that opened up a lot for me (small trips though, I still haven’t flown or sailed or left the country. One day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Air balloon ride? Oh my! I’ve always wanted to do that. Also have always wanted to paraglide. That would be fantastic…if I were about twenty years younger. So, over the last year, I’ve had a shrinking waistline, which I think is positive growth in my life because that hasn’t happened in about twenty years as well. As you know, I get in trouble just by standing still, so I don’t really feel like I have a choice by to expand and grow. Nothing quite like trouble to get your out of your comfort zone and force you to learn something new. Effing trouble. Would really just like to relax for a while. A long while. 😉 Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If/when you stop learning, you’re dead, or maybe you might as well be! On the flip side, if you’ve tried a few things, or even a lot of things, by the time you’ve reached a certain age, and you’ve decided what your preferences and what you love, it’s a benefit of aging that if you want to you can just stick with what you know and like. It’s an added bonus to be able to share that with others and with enthusiasm.

      As a personal example, I moved around a little in my adult life and, as the years passed, I discovered that I like history, especially a certain type of history that happened in a certain place, both of which are not as well known generally in other than local places. So I took it upon myself to try to do something to spread and share that history, to educate others about it. That took me out of my comfort zone since I was fairly new to this place and seemingly didn’t know the right people who could tell this history and can only surmise that since they didn’t know me they did not respond to my requests.

      I didn’t give up, though, and want you to know that I went to Arshay Cooper’s website and reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in speaking about his experiences within the context of the Scarboro Neighborhood (established during segregation) of Oak Ridge, the first Southern school district to be desegregated and also coincidentally a mecca for rowers!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wait, was this a write you scheduled for WordPress to post in the future, or maybe a repost from about two years back, because all I’ve done in the past eighteen months is adapt, have to endure, somewhat embrace, and hourly contend with once in a century life changing events.

    I mean the world stopped, damn it. Is that expansive enough for ya’ll? Did I miss something here? Was the pandemic just a fad, like bell bottoms or tie-dye? Was an attempted political putsch simply a passing fancy? Is one-hundred and twenty-five in the shade just another day at the beach?

    I don’t seek to expand my horizon, because the sky is still falling on me. Am I alone in that feeling? Did normalcy reentered earth’s atmosphere along with those billionaire astronauts and I just treated it as cash and carry.

    Nary a day, in damn near 600, have we not been tested and forced to expand the ambit of our comfort zone. We are living through an event horizon. It will not be over soon.

    Thanks LA….you made me think. Maybe only bout me. but still….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first three months of pandemic I let it consume my every thought. Then I dusted myself off and began living again. I realized that pandemic, COVID, people, are going to be around for the rest of my life. I could either let it destroy me or I could learn to ignore those unwanted roommates. I learned how to make pasta, pancakes in my rice cooker, and I attempted making Kung pau chicken. I read books that I never thought I’d read. Learned Zoom and learned to hate Zoom. I realized that I had to keep moving. But that’s my take and what I needed to do.just keep swimming.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Absolutely without a doubt, expand in all areas; and, as you write, it will not be comfortable, yet that’s the whole point. We get back so much more when we do things that expand our being in some way. Great question, LA.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I would love to go up in a hot air balloon. I do like to expand my experiences and we should never stop learning. There are some things though that I won’t try! My son and a friend are going sky diving! I have never been tempted to do that!
    I am glad that my son has a thirst for new things even if my heart will only stop panicking when he is back on the ground again! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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