Monday, January 09, 2012

No Limits

I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.
~Helen Keller

Everyone loves a good Helen Keller quote. Now wait just one minute, before I go any further, this is a WARNING - that this post is going to be one of those sappy, high-minded, idealist, cliche, flowery, hippy-ish, happy-go-lucky, and just way too optimistic types - to all naysayers; enter at your own risk. Back to Miss Keller, which is a funny thing, because as the ultimate model of a person with a disability who overcomes all odds, and finds a voice for herself at a time when it wasn't proper for a woman to be vocal, I actually don't know much about her life. I suppose all I really know is the legend, if that, and it has been impressed upon me that she was an extraordinary individual. I mean, ultimately I don't know, time has a way of distorting the lens of reality through which we judge people, so maybe she has some dark side we don't hear about (I don't think I saw that movie), but for purposes of this public service announcement, I'm going to maintain my ignorance, disregard WikiPedia, and stick with the extraordinary thing. But, like I said - everyone loves a good Helen Keller quote.

We all need inspiration (even if we don't want to admit it.) For some, maybe Keller inspires because you have a disability, and you know what it feels like to overcome, or maybe you haven't overcome, and you desperately desire to do so. Maybe you don't have a disability, but you've overcome your own challenge, stigma, or oppression. Maybe you are a woman, maybe you are not. Maybe you are empowered, maybe you want to be. Or Maybe you're doing just fine, and you just want to remind yourself, "hey, at least I'm not deaf, blind, or disabled." It doesn't matter, we all need inspiration. If you don't believe me, just Google "inspirational quotes" and see how many pages of results you get. Not to mention, the Lifetime channel would have no advertisers if this were not true (especially around the holidays.) And Oprah, she certainly wouldn't have her OWN network. Like I said - inspiration.

Okay, so at this point, I realize I am dangerously close to surpassing the attention-span of the average American, and you are begging me to get to the point so you can get back to your Sims Social game on Facebook, so I will now attempt to wrap this up like a cute pixelly Farmville gift you didn't ask for in the first place. You remember how I said "overcome" in the last paragraph, like as in, "overcome your limitations?" That's what I love about this quote, because, embedded in this quote is a higher level of understanding. You see, it's one thing to overcome your limitations, but entirely another to overlook them. Don't get me wrong, congratulations if you have overcome, because it is no easy feat in this world of multiplying internal and external barriers. I don't mean to diminish feats of strength and courage, as I certainly know the glory in triumph. I also, don't mean to say that you must pretend you do not have limitations, or to not acknowledge those you do have; on the contrary, you must know your limitations before you can move past them altogether. For we all have physical, mental, emotional, and societal barriers that "limit" us, as an output of production in comparison to some set standard of normalcy (really, "to be limited" is just a numbers game), but the important question is - do you let it "limit" your potential? And it is at this crossroads of contemplation that I arrive at the gift I so teasingly promised - which is, to purport that it is the perpetuation of the idea of limitation in our minds that is the cause of limitation in our potential.

Why does Keller choose to "seldom think about" her "limitations?" Because, to do so would only lead to a defeatist outlook. The thought of "limitation" is like a Mogwai (think Gremlins) - it seems innocent enough at first, but you pour water on it and it multiplies, and then you feed it in your darkest hour and it turns into an evil monster that takes over your thoughts. The crazy thing is, you often don't even notice it happen. Certainly this happened to me. I have a legitimate disability, with a legitimate wasting of muscle strength that I can claim as my limitation, not to mention an overdose of pain for good measure. And those are just the ones that most would easily hand me a "pass" (on life) card, as I have all the other ones too - bad relationships, failed ventures, childhood issues, and a dilapidated bank account (among others.) Now, please don't accuse me of hypocrisy, because even Keller recognizes that sometimes she "yearns" for them, but only in passing. And plus, I'm telling a story by example, if you may, now where was I? Yes, the Gremlins in my mind that I did not even see multiplying and taking over. So all the limitations that I espoused slowly became excuses, which became a plague on possibility. I would be happy to bore you with the details, like a history of Hobbits, but this is the Internet after all, and brevity is king, so I'll move on an let you know the good news - there is a remedy.

The good news is that all you need to kill a Gremlin is a bright light. Ultimately, that bright light is inside you (yeah, I know, here comes the cliche-ish part), but it usually takes lots of shining lights outside of you, before you discover the internal one. I know I had a plethora of friends (you know who you are) that have been my shining lights over the last few years, and I am eternally thankful for each of them! I encourage you to seek out those shining lights in your life, and then challenge yourself to find the bright light inside. Yes, I am wielding the imagery of light, and I'll let you equate the light to whatever meaning you choose, but suffice to say, it's what's going to enrich your life. The light is that belief in yourself that realizes the absence of limitation, and the abundance potential. Once you realize this key, and overlook your limitations, then you can truly realize what it means to push "mind over matter" (maybe not Yoda style Force levitation, but close.) With that said, find your light, set your destination, and grab life by the [enter your favorite object of metaphorical grabbing.]

In conclusion - Helen Keller, inspiration, no limitations, Gremlins, bright light, mind-over-matter, grab something, the end.


Anna said...


Ginny Howell said...

Right on. Amen brother.

Jerri said...

Bravo, Jason.

Jerri said...

Had to read and re-read; thanks for a morning meditation...I particularly liked the line:

"So all the limitations that I espoused slowly became excuses, which became a plague on possibility."

Because that is a trap I can easily fall into if I'm not watching it--even, occasionally, if I am. It’s just so comfortable to feel the victim sometimes--no matter if the reasons are emotional or physical--because it places blame “out there” for whatever I am “in here;” it removes my personal responsibility for finding and appreciating those bright lights you mention:

Like the (completely remarkable, wonderful) people—I am so fortunate in this—who populate my world, despite the ones who have left it; my mind, no matter the occasional brain fog; a body that supports me, regardless of a malfunctioning disk or that roll over the beltline; my talents, because I have them and sometimes even use them, and for the (here comes the cliché)roof over my head, as well as food, especially if it involves guacamole, and warmth in the winter and light in the night (things I think about now that I hear from Michael about Afghanistan where those aren’t ‘givens’ for most people).

I don’t blame myself or anyone else for occasionally slipping into victim mode when life whammies me with some new something, but I need to continuously remind myself I am accountable should I decide to stay there and wallow. I mean, if you live on this planet, you'll get your share, right? (Eventually I have to tell myself, get over it and get on! Let go and let God!)

The condition of my life reflects my choices. And I think it’s great that there are always choices—at the very least, in what I decide to think, where I decide to focus, what attitude I choose to adopt, how I decide to behave and treat people—and I’m the one who gets to make those decisions. Every. Single. Minute.

Thank you for reminding me of that.

Dad said...

Very moving!

Just writing this blog is a step in overcomming your gremlins (limitations). Appreciation of what you have is the greatest defence against the gremlin.

I am happy that you have rediscovered your adventurous and resilient self.