The Power of Limits to Awaken the Human Spirit

A friend recently sent me these words: "We need to surf the energy and conditions in the world in order for us to come into our full potential. We need to be ever more disciplined and willing to focus upon the positive regardless."

Individuals, and the world as a whole, have never been without conditions of some kind or another. So in a sense, the disorientation many of us are facing now is not new. With whatever conditions we face, we do have a choice. Do you bemoan your lot? Or when life delivers lemons, do you, as the saying goes, make lemonade?

Could it be that those conditions we face serve a purpose? Could that purpose be to know ourselves beyond the conditions, the limits, even the set of beliefs that we may have assumed about the way the world is, and how to play our part in it? Could we upgrade our game?

As a first-year architecture student, my first project was to design a garden pavilion -- without any limits. There was no terrain to negotiate, and the pavilion could be any size, shape and of any material we chose. The exercise was given for us to discover how difficult it is to design and create with no given framework. We learned how to value limitations, whether they came from client specification, budget, terrain, climate, detailed use for the construction.

Dr Paul Kaye wrote:

It has always fascinated me that creativity is often born out of limitation.

A great example of the use of limitation was in one of my all-time favorite movie scenes from Apollo 13. The Apollo 13 capsule, with three astronauts aboard, had very little power left and was rapidly running out of oxygen due to a malfunction in the system. The team of engineers in Houston had to figure out how to fix the problem using only a box of parts that were available to the astronauts in space. Due to the time constraints there was no room for error, it had to be right the first time. The engineers stared at the ragtag assortment of parts and then immediately got to work and came up with a unique design using plastic bags, cardboard, and duct tape to save the astronauts. Incredibly it was what actually happened in real life.

The next time we feel that we don't have enough money, or we can't have what we want, or we are in too much debt, instead of seeing it as a negative we can see it as an opportunity for creativity. Instead of feeling disempowered by what we are faced with, we can use the power of limits to expand.

The power of limits -- what a great phrase!

In my role as a wedding celebrant, I seek as much information about the couple and their families as I can, to create a ceremony that fits the intention they hold for their marriage partnership, both as individuals and as a couple. Just as a bride will have a dress fitted to the form of her body, so I aim to create a ceremony that fits the personalities and aspirations of the groom and bride.

I positively look for the sensitivities or limitations that will help to define their ceremony. Have they been married before with children to consider? Is there an important grandmother who will be taking a part in the ceremony? In marriages of mixed faith, what words are acceptable or inappropriate? What will make their ceremony special and memorable? With such information, it is much easier to design and officiate a ceremony that is authentic and from the heart.

How are the conditions you are facing actually serving you? How can you stretch your creativity to become more resourceful and engaged with what you have at hand? Do you need to shed some excesses -- old stuff in forgotten cupboard corners, projects long since abandoned but not properly discarded, new clothes unworn and hanging on rails -- in order to see more clearly?

Creativity thrives not in isolation but in company with others. It thrives with a person who has hobbies and interests that intrigue them. Creativity blesses the open mind.

The act of blessing a person, a situation or an issue can itself help to open the mind. Blessing is an act of love. With loving, we surf our conditions. To wish others happiness, joy and well-being is not limited to church leaders or those given spiritual authority. I have experienced powerful prayer coming from people who would consider themselves ordinary.

The condition I am presently facing is that of witnessing my dear parents becoming more frail, and frankly closer to the ends of their lives, whenever that may be. It is deeply sad for me to see them suffering the confusion and stress of having to lose some of their independence, to allow others to now assist and support them.

How do I surf this condition and focus on the positive regardless? The truth is, I am finding out as I go along. Intellectually, I know our lives are limited by time. We do not know the time limit until it shows up. Fortunately, I have dear friends who are assisting me to understand the process I am going through. Part of that process is staying in touch with the emotions as they touch me, and not trying to place a veneer of mental reasoning over the top of them.

I am learning that is OK to cry and not be in control of how I feel. Letting go of my reality as it has been will make space for a new reality to be born. Accepting the changes happening will enable me to touch more deeply into the spirit of who I am. However much my emotions seem to be dominating me, I do know that I am much more than my feelings or my thoughts. I am being awoken to something greater than I have known before. How do I know this? Because the loss I am viewing is profound for me.

I am being blessed by the loving, prayers and good wishes of caring friends. I do not feel alone. This makes a big difference to me.

Our lives are necessarily limited. If we were to fully know the immensity and magnificence of the total loving spirit in our world, who we truly are, I think we might blow our fuses.

A few years ago, my mother was very ill and emaciated. She lost a lot of weight. I was sleeping in the room next to her. I had a dream in which I saw the huge magnificence of her spirit, so far removed from her frail body. In my mum, so in each of us. We can choose to live closer to that spirit of who we are and rise above our conditions.


If you are feeling stuck in a situation, how do you open yourself to find a way through it? How has your creativity served you in the past? How do you "surf the energy and conditions of the world"? I would love to hear from you.


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