A Drop of Sunshine #12
August 2023: The Art of Accepting Limits
Hello Dear Ones,
Once upon a time, my husband and I dreamed of reaching the high point of all fifty states (minus deadly Denali in Alaska). Partially because we enjoy outdoorsy goals, partially as a way to see each state with a purpose, and partially as bragging rights (forgive us, we were twenty).
As we reached Hawkeye Point in Iowa, (a plaque in a cornfield) we realized we didn’t want to spend hard-earned dollars traveling to such anti-climatic sights. Summitting Kings Peak in Utah reignited our love for days-long treks through the mountains, but also reminded us that just because a peak is the highest, doesn’t mean its the most beautiful in the range.
With a limited number of backpacking trips and vacations across our lifetime, we let the high pointing dream go in order to focus on trips more meaningful to us. This is not to say that the people who achieve their high-pointing dreams do so in vanity, any more than it is to say letting go of our desire to highpoint was a failure. It’s merely to remind us all that dreams can be fluid, priorities often change, and humility is admitting when it happens and reorienting to new goals.
Ten years later, I still love backpacking, I still love summiting peaks, and I still love traveling to new states. But I’ve also learned that a ‘yes’ to something is a ‘no’ to everything else, and high-pointing was no longer worth the other ‘nos’.
In all pursuits, we’re constrained to the limits of time, energy, and resources. In writing, I have many ideas that beg pursuit, but I must say ‘no’ to many in order to say ‘yes’ to the one. As artists, we must choose what idea to create and in doing so, we must admit the limits of our humanity.
It saddens me to see such resistance to the limits of our humanity: from supplements that promise longevity to AI that pokes at omniscience and pretends its within our grasp, the larger culture is seduced by the idea of becoming mini-gods. We’re on our way to becoming, as Madeleine L'Engle so aptly coined in A Wrinkle in Time “disembodied brains”.
So, in the face of societal pressure to read ALL the books, watch ALL the shows, travel to ALL the sights, or in that corny, social media line “Do All The Things”, I will choose to sit quietly and say no. I won’t read all the books, nor lament the fact that I can’t. I won’t try to keep up with every streamed show, no matter how often people say I MUST watch the latest such and such.
I will read good books. I will watch quality shows (All Creatures Great and Small! So lovely, good, and true!). I will say yes to what is true and good and joyful, and I will be content and have gratitude for all these yes-es instead of greedily grasping for more, more, always more.
Or at least, I will try. And with the help of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful Church of saints around me, I’ll be reminded daily that I am not God nor a mini-god. And I’ll be free to bask in that relieving truth.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this drop of sunshine.
Quote to Ponder:
G.K. Chesterton in reference to Robinson Crusoe’s list of recovered items from the shipwreck:
“It is a good exercise in the empty or ugly hours of the day, to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the bookcase, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship on the solitary island.”
What to Bake
Peanut Butter Pie - House too hot to bake? Never fear, I’ve got a no-bake pie recipe here that will fill those who gather round your table with joy! Scrumptious with a capital S!
What to Listen To
Appaloosa Bones by Gregory Alan Isakov - Not to worry, the Appaloosa is alive…
What to Read*
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Chilling and thought-provoking, this book has earned its place as a modern classic.
Question to Ponder:
What human limit is the hardest for you to accept?
Mine is lack of omnipresence. I’d love to explore all the mountain ranges, lounge on all the beaches, and taste all the foods in wonderfully far-flung cities. But I’m working on not only accepting but also embracing my singular-presence. I am working to remember that I don’t need all to the enjoy the here and now.
Until next time, wishing you sunshiny trails,
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