The word “horizon” is powerful. To most, it conjures an idea of distance, an idea of grand expanses, distant places and people. The term can even refer to objects on a universal scale, that far transcends our day-to-day reality.
This only covers one of the meanings, the first of our definitions below. It is the second with which I am interested in discussing today – the horizons of our own personal, internal worlds.
- The line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet.
- “The sun rose above the horizon.”
- The limit of a person’s mental perception, experience, or interest.
- “She wanted to leave home and broaden her horizons.”
In the modern world, in any given first-world Western and Eastern civilisation, our horizons can be said to be simply what we choose them to be. Granted, we are biologically imposed with some restriction – not everyone has the jumping ability of Dick Fosbury or Michael Jordan, the decisive and sharp mind of a Feynmann or a Hawking or the personal and social skills of Alan Carr (that last one was a joke, I promise!) We are not all born smart, beautiful, athletic, driven or rich. Opportunity is not equally distributed.
That being said, in other, arguably more important ways, we are all created equal. Every human being in this world today has a beating heart, pumping oxygenated blood around the cells of their tissues, nourishing them, energising them to get up every morning and go about the tasks they choose in one way or other to undertake. Every human being has a brain, a brain so powerful and energy-exhaustive that the collective power of all of them bestowed the name homo sapiens as a daily reminder of our wisdom. That brain is a processor unparalleled in all of nature, a computer only equalled in power by the computer chips that are the manufactured brainchild of millions of human brains, fuelled by billions of all currencies to research and develop.
These are gifts, gifts that we do well not to squander and waste, not to take for granted. Our horizons are as boundless as the sea, and what we can accomplish both as individuals and a collective is limited to a greater or lesser extent only by our decisions and our determination.
In the bustle of modern life, introspection often loses its place and gets pushed to the wayside. So far I am one month into removing myself from this, living what could be considered a very simple life on an island in Asia, and I can already feel my creative energies restoring themselves. My desire to drink coffee has reduced dramatically – I still love the taste, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t need it any more. I simply want it on occasion. My body feels more energised than it has in a long time. There is much I miss about home, that’s for sure, of which a small number of people make up the majority, but I am growing again. Developing.
I came to this island to develop my skills as a scuba diver, but it has swiftly become far more than that. Finding one friend who shared my love of Brazilian jiu-jitsu has already led to the formation of a small, unofficial training club – I can impart some of my knowledge to my new friends, most of whom are already assisting me with diving, and another of our group can pass down some of his rather sharp Muay Thai skills. I have taken the time to walk on the beach, staring out into the ocean and thinking deeply about how beautiful the world is and how lucky I am to have my part in it. I have actually had the time to stop and think for the first time in years.
It has been many months since I have taken the time to sit down and write an essay to share. My reasons for this are weak, but suffice to say there have been plenty of thought processes that I at least have deemed worthy of public discourse. It took a passing comment from a friend, praising the content of these “thoughts”, to re-invigorate me sufficiently to put hands to keyboard. I owe that friend a glass of wine. A lot of the stresses created by modern-day living are created by thinking – over-thinking to be specific. We magnify the smallest irritation to a calamity that could end the world, at least from our personal worldview. And after we have wasted this brain space, we feel over-exerted, drained of energy by letting our brains run away with us. So we shut them off. We retire to a childish novel, a mind-numbing TV show or conversation about superficial topics. It is so rare to get the chance to stop and think, about what we really want from life. What our horizons really are biologically, and which are simply self-imposed restrictions limiting our journey to fulfilment. Do that thing you think about daily, that keeps you up at night and leaves you feeling empty when you go to bed without it.
Never be afraid to stop and think. Never be afraid to broaden your horizons.