This is post number twelve in the Online Discussion Group hosted by Kate Motaung based on the book, On the Writing Life:12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig.
“I wish that I had unlimited time and energy.” “I could make this just like you want if I had an unlimited budget.” ” If I had fewer limits on my power I could do more good.” I have read comments like those above more than a few times. We all want more. We want cars that go faster, but we want other drivers to avoid crashing into us. We want other people to be on time though we want to get more done before the next meeting.
As humans we are constantly in a state of tension between our desire for more and the need to live in community with one another.
We want to be unlimited. God has designed us with limits. Personal freedom is a rallying cry. The problem lies in the fact that the freedom of others can directly limit our own.
Why would God create us with so much creativity, desire and drive if we were not designed to live fully free to do whatever we want? Six year olds could explain the answer. Many sixteen year olds and sixty year olds might have a problem with the simple answer. When we were young we understood that we were not perfect. We all make mistakes. Children have no problem with this concept. They have limits placed upon them at every turn. Although they say, “No” with great alacrity, children grasp that they cannot do it all. As we grow and master more skills our natural tendency is to want the limits removed. An enormous sense of accomplishment is rightly felt when we first ride a bike without training wheels. The joy of a drivers’ license is the elixir of freedom!
All our lives we push at the edges, reaching for more freedom. We grow and expand the limits. This can be very healthy. We develop more creativity as we overcome obstacles. Unbridled freedom can lead to self-destruction, or worse.
This post may seem like a philosophical stretch, but I think it reaches to one of the core problem that we all face. We often view “more” as our birth-right. We don’t like the idea of limitations. We would rather write, take care of family, pay the bills, please ourselves and everyone else simultaneously.
Too often we only accept limits when life lived without them fails.
I think that it is good that we face the unpleasant reality of limitations to our writing head-on. By recognizing early that we are probably not going to be spending a year alone in a cabin in the woods writing is good. I am not sure that a year alone in the woods would be good for most of us anyway.
Personally, I push at the edges of physical limits ceaselessly. Physical illness, caregiving and the restraint of a mere twenty-four hours in ever day are always leaving me with a desire for more.
Faith has slowly taught me that self-sacrifice is the path to true greatness.
If I need to forgo Facebook in order to write, then it will be done. Watching television was disappointing at best. I gave that up and became all the happier for the sacrifice. Some of what we fill our time with is not fulfilling any longer. It is easy to fall into patterns of behavior that don’t really satisfy us.
God who is unlimited, demonstrated the importance of Sabbath rest, by resting on the seventh day. He didn’t need to rest. He limited Himself in order to teach us. More is not always better. The tenet holds true in many areas of life. It can be true in the writing life. We can become better writers by sacrificing other areas of interest to pursue writing and we can become better writers by writing less in some periods. The natural limits may actually be like speed-limits to prevent crashes.