A Thought about Limits

A violin is a very limited instrument. Unlike a saxophone, if you blow into it, no music is made. If you beat on it with a stick, you may get sounds and may be able to produce a rhythm with some different tones. But why would you do that? There are instruments much better for that method of producing music. If you have never played a violin before and run the bow over the strings, a sound comes out, but it’s not music.

To create music with a violin, you need to understand what the instrument is and what it isn’t.  To do so, you pick up a book or take lessons and learn the limits of the instrument and you learn the limits of music through music theory. Once you start understanding the limits of those two things, you start making music. A violin is defined by what it can and can’t do. Music is music only if the sounds are within defined limits. The masters are the people who know the limits, explore the limits, experiment with the limits and push the limits.

Some common motivational philosophies try to tell us not to limit ourselves. We hear inspirational stories of basketball players who were short but, with lots of practice and hard work, become professional players.  We hear about musicians with a physical handicap who became accomplished musicians.  Those are remarkable stories. I love hearing them but I don’t at all recommend that path for anyone. Limits are what define us and make us unique. Just as a river is not a river without its banks, you have banks which define you and give you a direction. The key is knowing yourself, knowing what the banks are, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and letting those define your direction.

Humans are limited beings and we all have different limits. We are all divinely unique instruments. Our limits don’t limit us, but instead give us direction through our strengths. The work a short person has to put into playing basketball against tall people is immense. What if that energy was put into an area where they already had a natural strength?

One of the main concepts in The Infinite Jeff is vertical growth. Vertical growth is growing to have a deeper understanding of who you are, what you are and how you relate to the Infinite. Whereas, horizontal growth is learning facts. Schools teach mostly facts. We learn math equations, dates of important historical events, or maybe even how a car engine works. Sadly, most churches teach on the horizontal plane. You learn Bible verses and listen to someone pontificate about their beliefs and theology. It is not wrong for schools or churches to teach those things, but it shouldn’t be their sole purpose.

You are a unique instrument able to create a unique music. One of your life purposes is to learn your strengths and explore their limits, test their limits, and push their limits. It is important to surround yourself with people who embrace you for the limited person you are and push you in your vertical growth. Another life purpose is to learn to recognize others for the divinely unique instruments they are and join them in their vertical growth process.

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