Monday, February 14, 2011

Limits, Assumptions and Unanswered Questions

I've included a photo of the Pyramids because I believe them to be a triumph of human determination

Blog # 69: Limits: Questioning everything

I'm not sure if it comes across in this blog, but I'm actually a pretty shy person and I'm pretty private too. It might seem like a contradictory thing for a private person to blog, but it comes down to this: I have no problem sharing my thoughts, reactions, opinions on topics, but my feelings are what I usually keep to myself. But in this blog, I'd like to share a little more than usually of the type of things I think about.

Last week I was listening to an old podcast I'd heard before on NPR by Radiolab about 'Limits'. The topic discussed the limits of the body, mind and the limits of what it is possible to know. So I started thinking a lot about my limits. What am I capable of? how far can I be pushed? how hard can I work? How many hours can I write and practice? Am I working hard enough? I practice between 5-6 hours every day, and usually compose music for an hour...but can I do more?

This got me started really questioning some assumptions all artists make about themselves. We all assume we will succeed(however we define success), or we will be great someday(if we don't already think we're great now). I think all artists assume that they have 'what it takes', that they are special. And while every artist questions their work, I think at the end of the day, they all believe in themselves. If they didn't they wouldn't continue.

But how do you KNOW that you are great? That you are special? That you will succeed? That you aren't a quitter? That you have 'what it takes'? How do you know you're strong? After a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusion that you don't know. Its all just an assumption. You can't know unless you're tested. Frequently.

Are you a good person? Do you do the' right thing'? Prove it. Everyday. Are you treating the people around you well? Are you helping your fellow human beings? OR could you do more? Maybe its as simple as telling someone they did a good job, or that you value them. Or maybe its as simple as helping an old woman, by holding a door.

Are you a quitter? I'm sure everyone thinks 'no', but that's just an assumption. How do you know if you've never been tested? If you haven't been put in a really difficult situation?

This week, I had been thinking about all this stuff and I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. I go to the gym regularly and run, usually stick to around 3 miles(30 min). So I decided to test myself, by doubling it. I was going to run 6 miles(1 hour). It wasn't pleasant but I did it(and have the blisters on my feet to prove it). I don't think that this really proves anything though. I finished the hour run, my feet and knees hurt, but I wasn't dying on the floor. Maybe I realized I had a lot more inside than I thought, but I still wasn't any closer to finding a limit.

The point I'm getting at, is its very hard to know how far you can push yourself in any field unless you're constantly trying. You might push yourself beyond what you think you can do just to realize that you're capable of much more.

Are you capable of greatness?

Are you a good person and do you do the right thing even when its hard?

Do you have 'what it takes'?

Are you a quitter?

Prove it.

I don't know if I am any of those things, but I'd like to find out one way or the other.

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