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You Haven’t Earned Your Limits Yet

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You Haven’t Earned Your Limits Yet

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THE BOLD  (an End to Limited Limitation):

Until you bump into the wall, you don’t have a wall.  Until you push yourself past what is possible, you haven’t earned your limits.

The Whisper (an Experience of the Infinite Finite)

Recently, I participated in a group meditation.  The facilitator drew us along a path to encounter a book, empty and waiting, in which we could scribe our deepest yearnings.  From there we journeyed out into the cosmos and encountered our limitless self.  Right there, I crashed back in on myself.  I was enjoying the ride–the words were beautiful and evocative and the time spent in quiet, hopeful contemplation was a welcome investment.  However, I drew the line at the ridiculous notion that I, and the world around me, and the possibilities that exist, am limitless.
What a thought.  Of course I am limited.  I don’t have everything.  I am not everything.  The world has boundaries, the universe has an outer edge and I am going to die.  What a notion.  Limitless, indeed.

As everyone else in the room whizzed around their limitless universe, I stepped off the ride, my ticket stamped by my awareness of limitation.  I congratulated myself for my practicality.  Now, I reasoned, I don’t have to entertain that silly notion.  I’ve used logic and evidence to overturn a proposed idea and I am free from adopting it.

If I felt a sense of disappointment and loss, I credited that to the practicality account as well.  Limitless might be nice, but it was expensive, burdensome and frightening.  What a relief (and a grief) to know it was impossible.

Then, a new thought sizzled through this sad but comfortable bolt hole into which I had retreated.  If the limits of a thing exist outside of what is reachable, the thing is functionally, if not actually, limitless.  Crap.

When I wade out into the ocean, my experience of the electric froth of wave and swirling sand searing my feet, the power of the current pulling at my legs, the roar of the churn filling my ears and overflowing into my being, is not diminished by any awareness that the ocean ends on the shores of France.

If I were to stand in a football stadium, toes on the astroturf, and fling a ball as far as I am capable of throwing a ball, it would not matter that the field is 120 yards long or that the nose-bleed seats are 500 or more feet away.  The ball will fall to earth well before it ever discovers the limits of the stadium.

My world is functionally, if not actually, limitless.  I am functionally, if not actually, limitless.  My excuses, my discomfort, and my beliefs are a wall at the 1-yard line that stops me from even throwing the ball.  My self-satisfied logic is the limit that keeps me up on the sand because the ocean has dimension and is finite.

Some of us find our limits.  Runners collapse, politicians lose elections, competitors come in second.  However, until I have pushed my lungs past the point where they can provide oxygen to my body, until I have exhausted a multi-million dollar war chest in a race for a Senate seat, until I have had to shake the better player’s hand, I haven’t earned my limits.  It isn’t that I want those dire results.  It is simply that until I have driven at top speed into a limit, I am limitless.

And, stunningly, if I find a limit, it might not be a firm limit.  Runners train and lungs grow in capacity.  Politicians refine their message and win subsequent elections.  Competitors learn from the competition, train, hustle and receive the medal and the handshake in another round.  The ocean is fixed.  The capacity of the swimmer is bounded by soft limits.  The stadium is solid.  The capacity of the player is bounded by his or her current condition and skills.  Some limits have limits.

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