All well-brought up people are afraid of having any experience which seems to them uncharacteristic of themselves as they imagine themselves to be. Yet this is the only kind of experience that is really alive and can lead them anywhere worth going. New, strange, uncharacteristic experience, coming at the needed moment, is sometimes as necessary in a person’s life as a plow in a field.
The Journals and Letters of the Little Locksmith
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I think very few young people feel this fear; after all, what is ‘the gap year‘ if not the recognition that exploring uncharacteristic experiences is part of growing up? I certainly did my share of exploration in my twenties and thirties. But now I’m in my sixties, I think there is certainly a risk of straying from the well-trodden path.