Monday, October 1, 2007

Why the Chambered Nautilus?

I'm reading Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerry Weinberg. The epigraph for one chapter is an excerpt from a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes that expresses, for me, a potential obstacle to personal growth.

The Chambered Nautilus

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
That is, simply put, the fear of leaving our old, comfortable way of life (... knew the old no more.)

The poem concludes,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
If we take the risk of growing, of trying new things, we shall at length [be] free and leave our outgrown shell because we no longer need it.

You can read the full text of the poem at Blupete's poetry site.


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