I’m not big on quotes. Letting someone else rent space in my mind reeks of irresponsibility and makes me feel like I’m missing an opportunity to un-quiver an arrow at something original.
But sometimes, with the wisdom of experience, someone says something that captures my thoughts in the right way and I feel obligated to attribute their words to my ramblings. Today is one of those days.
I am sitting sub-comforter – my back consciously congruent to the deflating pillows of an old couch – and staring at one of the various talking heads now screaming at me from the sixty-inch boob tube. Five political people perch around a wooden table arguing the merits of phrases like “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling” and they toss around threatening
comments such as “If we don’t do something, blah blah blah, the Mayans were right.”
Some of the heads have poorly combed hair and at least one of the men employs hand gestures, which your average moviegoer might recognize as vaguely Kubrickian. Plus, there are charts.
As I nestle into a bowl of oatmeal – possible cholesterol issues – and concern myself with the pajama pants crease now grinding into my left leg, I weigh the day’s contradictions. See, when I grew up, I had some ideas about potential:
If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. – Bruce Lee
Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them. – Albert Einstein
Truth is, while I’ve already expressed my anathema for unoriginality, these guys pretty much nailed it. We are individuals subject to the many influences of our predecessors. As kids, the thoughts and words of our idols guide us.
What I’m saying is – “I get it!” Our government leaders have taken the lessons of their youth and applied them to their governing philosophy. Only, they fucked up. Going beyond your limits does not refer to the economic parameters of a thriving nation. Breaking limits refers to upward mobility, not to downward spirals – no one wants to break limits on depression or trash dispersal or losing friends. Limits are less about how many people rejected your advances and more about how often you secured a date. Limits refer to things like space and seas and ambition and excellence.
It seems, however, that our leadership is confused, suffering before the wrath of misunderstanding now permeating American culture. When it comes to financial security, they believe “going beyond limits” is a good thing. They pride themselves on filling the nation’s credit card and burdening America’s youth with high-interest long-term debt. They think they are adhering to the “go beyond” mandate.
Perhaps we need some new information. Maybe outdoing oneself is not always in one’s best interest. Sometimes limits might be good. Here are a few more voices of reason:
We are beginning a new era in our government. I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of a rigid economy and an inflexible determination not to enlarge the income beyond the real necessities of the government.
Alas, I am dying beyond my means.
Alas, I am off the couch now, pressing the button on the remote control to the off position, recognizing that I’ve reached my listening limit, and doing something about it!