My typing is pretty slow today because I had a bit of an accident with the hedge trimmer. I took off the tip of my finger. I got a few stitches to reattach the tissue. It's the first time in a long time I've had to have stitches. I was tired and not concentrating as well as I should've been.
Limitations are really hard to see most of the time. Scratch that, they're really hard to see within yourself. A 4'9" fat kid may believe that, if he works hard enough, will someday be able to dunk a basketball. Everyone else can realistically tell that it is not a likely outcome.
We live in a society that doesn't comfortably discuss our limitations as individuals. A high school teacher in Oakland recently wrote the letter to Stephen Curry (star basketball player for the Golden State Warriors), pleading with him to not come to his school. His reasoning was that, while he was a big fan of his playing ability, his presence would be misleading the overwhelming majority of the students into believing that they too can become basketball phenoms.
The teacher's request, while less than inspiring, was intended altruistically. He wanted all of his students to see value in what they were learning in school instead of placing their entire life into the hands of the sport that they may never master. Curry, as he put it, was one in 1 million, and he had a lot of students that don't have that kind of luck.
A few years ago I quit my old job got a new one. I bought and repaired a house and recorded an album. I was finishing the illustration of a comic book and going to college. I was traveling around the state and going to New York city. I did all of these things within the span of three months. I was like a man possessed, trying to stave off death and get a bunch of life goals accomplished.
I was doing something else I was unaware of; I was creeping up on my psychological and emotional threshold.
This isn't a "dear diary" entry. I'm trying to express that I didn't know how far these limitations were within myself. I had friends and family asking me frequently, "How are you doing?" I thought I was fine. I thought I wasn't doing enough.
My 'short fat kid trying to dunk a basketball' moment came to me in the middle of the day during one of my class sessions. I was trying to tell my students something and my jaw clenched. I was afraid I was having a heart attack. It ended up being an anxiety problem that I can't treat with pills. I still cope with it to this day and probably will for the rest of my life.
Some people have diabetes. Some people have crazy family issues. I have anxiety. Knowing about that limitation doesn't make it easy to deal with, but at least I know what I have to face. This saves me a lot of time and avoids creating new problems.
As hard as it is a talk about my own limitations, I find it harder to talk to other people about their own. The intention may be to help, but it comes across as being condescending or judgmental. Most people just keep to themselves as opposed to creating any social awkwardness. This is our cultural practice. This happens on micro and macro level.
I propose we put some more social awkwardness in our lives. We have so many social problems that can't even be addressed because our avoidance of conflict has bred anti-intellectualism. Our society doesn't even have good tools to generate discourse of what ails us.
I try to understand my limitations so I can develop empathy to understand the limitations of others. This helps me make decisions about what is right and what is wrong. Knowing where our limitations begin and end might help us all avoid cutting off the tip of our finger with a hedge trimmer.
Just to use an example.