Yesterday I was equally struck by two seemingly opposing ideas from different sources. One challenged me to blow off the limits life has imposed on me; and the other, to deliberately impose limits on my life.
The first was the latest This American Life podcast, actually an introduction of a new podcast called Invisibilia. The episode – “Batman” – is about a now-middle-aged-man named Daniel who has been blind from childhood, who hikes, bikes, and climbs trees. He can do these things, he and his mother explain, because from the time he was small, she allowed him to explore the world free from the typical limits one might expect a mother to put on her blind son. Sure, he had his share of accidents and crashes, but by challenging the limits society placed on him as a blind person, he grew capable and resilient.
The second was a Zen Habits blog post by Leo Babauta, “In Praise of Limits.” In our consumer society, the abundance of choices available to us every day can be overwhelming, Babauta writes. Purposely limiting ourselves – imposing rules such as only eating during certain hours of the day, only spending an allotted amount of time per day online – can actually make our lives richer and fuller.
Blow off the limits and exceed your own and everyone else’s expectations. Impose limits so that you can live a focused, purposeful life. Both/and. The skill comes in identifying which limits are keeping you down, and what other limits might help set you free.