Dealing With Our Limitations

Grumbling is a constitutional right, isn’t it? Everyone complains occasionally. It might be about the weather, the stack of month-end bills, or a mother-in-law’s upcoming visit. Some people don’t like their lot in life, or they don’t feel they get the breaks they deserve. Or they may justifiably resent having to deal with more serious problems, like illness, or incapacitation, or unemployment.

I can think of many reasons why people are discontent, but there are people who have a legitimate cause to complain… and don’t. In her weekend blog post Ann Voskamp included the following video of a KING-TV interview. It blew me away!

 

 

We can’t always manage to do what we wish? The message is: find something else that we can do and then get on with it.

From now on, whenever I bemoan my trivial limitations, the remarkable Paul Smith will come to mind.

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Humming along…


Beautiful flashes of brilliance catch my attention as two hummingbirds hover close to the window, scanning the blossoms in our hanging baskets. They are Rufous Hummingbirds, the male suitably attired in rusty feathers with an iridescent red throat and his female companion wearing green with dainty iridescent orange at her throat.

At barely three inches long and weighing three-to-four grams, they are the tiniest birds in existence but their apparent fragility is misleading. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology calls them the feistiest species in North America, “relentless attackers at flowers and feeders.” On our deck they aggressively dart at others in defense of their right to an exclusive buffet meal.

I’m amazed at the energy these tiny airborne jewels expend, whipping their little wings at sixty-or-so beats per second. They eat their body weight in food each day and become torpid at night to conserve energy. If adequate food and shelter are available they can tolerate temperatures down to -20°C. but usually make an annual migration run that takes them almost 8,000 miles clockwise around western North America. Some live over a decade and use their remarkable memories to return every year to the same location and feeder.

They are fascinating, belligerent wee beings and I love watching them flit back and forth from the trees, hovering in place or even flying backwards as they jockey for position at the feeder.

Part of my fascination is in realizing how persistent and enduring Hummingbirds are despite their diminutive size.  They don’t let their limitations become an excuse, but persevere against the odds, sometimes travelling incredible distances to reach their goals.

Let’s see now, do you suppose there’s a lesson to be learned from them?

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Photos courtesy of Ryan Bushby and Sberardi

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Tenacity despite the odds

“If you will it, it is not a dream.”  That’s such a crappy platitude! It suggests we can achieve anything if we want it badly enough but reality shouts otherwise. There are some circumstances we simply can’t change. Does that mean we shouldn’t try?

 

Consider Terry Fox* and Jeneece Edroff**. Consider Albert Einstein***. Each faced significant obstacles but still achieved great things. If they allowed the negative aspects of life to tempt them into a fetal position where navel-gazing was their main preoccupation, none of their accomplishments would have materialized.

 

How does this apply to our writing? Whether or not a person will be a writer is not something determined by anyone else. A writer is someone who writes, someone who transfers thoughts into written words. Dreaming about writing won’t get anything written but reaching for the pen (or keyboard) will, because every journey begins from where we are and proceeds one step at a time. Tenacity keeps us moving.

 

I try to remember this when the words won’t come or seem trivial and I am tempted to give up. 

 

* “Terry Fox was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977. While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research… To date, more than $400 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name.”

 

**  Jeneece Edroff lives with neurofibromatosis, a rare and painful genetic neurological condition. Despite her own medical obstacles, she has a desire to help other kids who have special challenges. With the help of friends and family, she organized a penny drive, which has spread across the province. In 2008, the province-wide campaign raised over $600,000 all of which stayed in B.C. Since starting the coin drive, Jeneece has raised over $1 million.”

 

*** In 1896 Albert Einstein entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship [but] was unable to find a teaching post, [so] he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office…
During his stay at the Patent Office, and in his spare time, he produced much of his remarkable work… Albert Einstein received honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from many European and American universities… In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.” (From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967)