As I wrote earlier this week, human are limited creatures. In fact, all but God Herself, and maybe not even Them, are limited.
We are limited. Our time in these particular configurations of empty space, energy, water, bacteria, and a wee bit of other stuff is limited. Furthermore, our space is limited. None of us will make it to everywhere on Earth. Nor would we want to, if we’re wise.
Our mental capacities are limited. Even the “brightest” among us lose the track, don’t always remember what we need to know, don’t come up with the right answer first. We can only go so far.
As I’ve written here, on Facebook, in my weekly loveletter (Reflections), and elsewhere, some of my limitations are written for many to read, imprinted on my body. Moreover, they are interpreted—as all visible limitations are—through the lenses of other people’s experiences. And far too often, through their prejudices.
Some limitations aren’t limitations at all. They’re just the experience of being human. Moods, like clouds passing before the ever-present sun, are something everyone has. It’s when they go beyond a certain range, or never seem to see the sun that we worry, that we say that person “is” something or “has” something.
That person is limited.
But who isn’t?
And tell me why the limitations imposed by one kind of health are more important and more open to public scrutiny? Tell me why fat is so offensive and unhealthful a perceived limitation that people—strangers and friends—feel entitled (I was going to write “compelled,” but “entitled” is much more accurate.) to comment on the bodies of those of us who are big, even those of us who are barely larger than the ever-moving, ever-elusive “average”?
Body fat, like many other perceived limitations, is part of what makes us ourselves. The way we and the world engage the shape we have (and by “shape” I mean “shape”) helps determine much of our self-image, our resilience, strength, anxiety, trust, empathy, and many other traits.
Those things we and others perceive as limitations carve deep wells in our personality. But as I allude above, what we perceive as limitations can create reserves of strength.
Not only am I very fat, but I have limited lung capacity and significant mental illness, as well. (For more on that, search “Hearing Voices” on the main blog page.) I know that without these limitations, these experiences of difference and disability, I would simply be a different person.
There are things I didn’t learn as a young person because I was very sick with untreated bipolar disorder. I wish I had learned those things. But having to try to catch up as an adult is a slow and frustrating process, and it has consequences for those who love me. Nonetheless, as I am fond of saying, “If things were different, things would be different.”
I tend to assume people are judging me. That comes from (and is one of) my limitations.
I am learning to be gently persistent because it is the only way I can figure out how to get through this world with the cards I’ve been dealt.
I write. And write. And write. I share and talk and teach and listen and ask. And I do these things because I know that other people are in pain too.
You may or may not have perceived limitations that overlap with mine, but you have limitations, for sure. Because you are a creature. You are a being. Perhaps She Whose Body Encircles the Universe is without limitation. Perhaps the One the Sufis call the Real is without limitation.
But we are not given to know such things.
I suppose in closing I will say something you might expect: Embrace your limitation and work with them.
That is not to say ignore their consequences on you or on others.
That is not to say never try to dig deeply into your own Wisdom and Blessedness to become more of the person you hope to me.
That is not to say any of these things.
It is to say this: Know that you are doing the best you can with the tools you have. Want more tools? Great! Seek them out and may we all blossom in our time. But please, please (and preacher, hear thyself!) recognize that you are literally doing the best you can do, moment to moment.
Ah, here we are again with gentleness and persistence. Shocking how we always come here.
Persistence: Not giving up. Not throwing in the towel just because you have limitations or even because others are cruel about your limitations. You can find resilience with you that allows you to bounce back and continue to move forward, one bit at a time.
You can do it.
In a little less than two weeks, I will be hosting Through the Veil, a retreat for those who would like to consider and engage the complexities of relating to our Ancestors of Blood, Adoption, and Spirit. Please click here for more invitation and information! Love!