There is a certain comfort in returning to old friends, but it may not be the best way to grow.

Now, before you get too uncomfortable with this thought (oh, hell, I actually WANT you to get uncomfortable for a moment), I want you to think about what I’m suggesting.

The old friends I’m referring to are books.

If you are anything like me (one head, two eyes, a mouth, a nose, arms, legs, and assorted innards), you probably have a few books (perhaps more than a few) that you go back to regularly for the comfort of the stories therein.

I have several.  The Dark Tower series by King, Jurgen by James Branch Cabell, The Timegod by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., The Mind Parasites, by Colin Wilson and Replay, by Ken Grimwood, as well as all seven of the novels of Charles Williams.

Some of these books give up new secrets with each read (or remind one of those secrets forgotten between reads).  Mostly, however, they’re just warm slippers, or a comfortable chair with good light.

I have recently come to realize that searching out new books, becoming acquainted with fresh ideas, going to different places and meeting new characters may be more important.  Frankly, I don’t like the idea all that much, but if my life is to be about growth and understanding, perhaps it is time for me to get used to the idea of reaching out at least twice as often as I reach back in.

Perhaps you only read the latest books.  Perhaps you only study the most current and intriguing thinkers.  Maybe you don’t need to reach back to a certain level of comfort in order to pass your days, weeks, months and years.  For you, then, what I’m saying here must seem ridiculous.  But, if you are like me in this respect, perhaps you, too, should look at your habits, and see if reaching out, looking for the next great talent, finding the next inspiration in clear thinking and story-telling, might just be the next big thing.