Take It to the Limit

Jonathan Clements

WE IMAGINE WE finally have everything sorted out, only to wake the next morning with a gnawing sense of uncertainty, plus the milk’s sour and we’re out of coffee.

Welcome to the human condition.

We lead lives bounded by limitations, some self-imposed and some imposed on us. Here are just 15 of the obstacles we face:

  1. No accomplishment leaves us happy and satisfied for long.
  2. Our days are numbered, but we don’t know the count.
  3. Next week, the house will need to be cleaned again.
  4. We hunger to relax, only to hanker for activity.
  5. We do foolish things to feel better in the moment: smoke, gamble, drink too much, take drugs, eat badly, spend excessively.
  6. We think we know others, but we only ever know part of their story.
  7. Today’s proudly purchased possessions elicit tomorrow’s ho-hum.
  8. We have unwavering trust in our own unreliable memories.
  9. We keep having to stop for sleep and sustenance.
  10. We’re surrounded by lesser mortals, who refuse to see things our way.
  11. Our bodies fail us gradually, and sometimes all too quickly.
  12. After we cross the finish line, another appears in the distance.
  13. We think we’re rational, but much of the time we aren’t thinking straight.
  14. For any given activity, there’s a 50% chance we’re below average.
  15. Today’s issues seem so important. A year from now, we can’t imagine why.

Some of these constraints are beyond our control. Some offer the possibility of self-improvement. At a minimum, we should strive for a sense of perspective, so our days aren’t marred by too much self-inflicted nonsense.

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