On knowing your limits

Everything is impossible, until it isn’t. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Weightlifter
Photo courtesy of Peter Reid, Flickr

What would it be like to live in another era, or another country? What would it be like to live your life as a king, as a slave, or as the opposite sex?

What would it be like?

The many answers to the many forms of this question may be less interesting, and less useful, than the observation that most of us never bother to answer it.

One of the most powerful insights into our human condition is the tendency of our species to live within the limits.

– the limits of our physical endurance and strength
– the limits of our understanding
– the limits of our beliefs
– the limits of our intelligence
– the limits of our will, knowledge, and comfort

There are names for those who test limits.

The weightlifter who can comfortably lift x pounds sets a goal to lift x+10 pounds.

The runner who can complete 3 miles in 25 minutes determines to run 3 miles in 20 minutes.

These people are called athletes.

The person who imagines what it would be like to wake up as a giant cockroach, and who writes a book about it, is called an artist.

The athlete wages a battle against physical and mental limits. The artist confronts the limits of imagination.

There is no name for the people who never test their limits, because they are simply ordinary human beings.

Limits show us where the possibility of growth exists.

The limits of political will define the status quo. Will is the wall that encircles every social order.

The politician says “that’s impossible,” when what he really means is, “I lack the will to do it.”

Don’t accept the world as it is, because it will be that and nothing more.

Questions push up against the limits of what is known. The answers lie beyond. Don’t ask questions, and you will forever live within the limits of your current knowledge.

There are emotional limits, mental limits, physical limits, psychological limits.

Fear, lack of confidence, comfort, doubt, resignation.

Everything has an absolute limit: but since we so often accept the given limits as if they were absolute, we don’t explore the realm of the possible.

What is impossible? Airplanes, medicine, going to the moon. A 2-hour marathon. Time travel. The line between what is and what could be is a line we are re-drawing every day.

Artists, athletes, explorers, innovators, and philosophers do not accept limits. They identify that which is unknowable, undiscovered, unseen, unthinkable. They know, discover, see, and think.

Find a limit and push against it. Accept nothing as it is, and it will soon be something else.

2 responses to “On knowing your limits

  1. Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Fool and commented:
    And what a sad life, to never know your limits.

    Like

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