RECOGNITION OF TRUE LIMITS AND TRUE OPPORTUNITY
As I sit below the bridge at Siberia ghost town, I can see the Bullion Mountains many miles to the south. I spy them through a portal under the bridge, a window-like opening between the old wooden structure above, and the sandy wash below. There’s no glassy pane between these worlds, just a sharp division of shadow across the ground which marks the limit of my safety in the shared, safety from the summer heat—over 110 degrees today—which keeps me hiding here in the hot dark. The dividing line of shadow in the sand is my limit. Not my true limit, that is a few miles further out in the desert, that true limit I could never return from if I were to cross.
I look from under the bridge at the places I cannot go. And I am keenly aware of how small my limit where I can go. I can stay here. And I can walk safely a short distance out there. I can walk almost safely back to my bike parked at Siberia. I can hide there in the shade of the ruins in late afternoon. I can’t go far. I can’t go even as far as I think I can. This place makes me know my limit here. This place threatens like a beast, or someone we know yet cannot trust, we know only we must beware.
It’s a pity everything isn’t so easy to read as a summertime desert. Imagine at work, going to a meeting where some inferno blasts. Where you know so easily how close you can get before being burned. How far to safely remain to hold your own and do your job and produce well and avoid being burned.
Or how about during your commute home. Shouldn’t we expect the inferno on the road? It burns with inconsiderate driver, or with mistake, or with traffic, even traffic we knew was coming—rush hour—which somehow takes us always by surprise. Maybe not so much if the event burned like a desert. Came blowing hot wind on our body from 5:30 to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday. Maybe we’d be less angry if we saw this as something beyond our control?
But we do have some control. We do have some say in these and other matters. We choose our job and our commute. We can change these if we like, though with consequences we know. And what we can’t change or control we can adjust our reaction. We can control our response. We can master our emotions, and our actions; and in so doing explore and discover the true limits of our control.
Now the truest extent and limit of our control is the mastery we gain of our emotions and the reactions we couple to these. It’s a good use of time to meditate upon the source and substance of our particular and individual mental and emotional character. What touches us deeply? What sets us off? What moves us and motivates us to action? What causes us to despair or give up? And if we come to know these things, what attentions may we apply to spot such emotions rising early and soon in our minds? How can we prepare to handle what we are, to make ourselves better in fact and action than what we really are? This is the paramount goal in recognizing our true limits in both the world outside, and the world within, as well as our true opportunity in every day and moment that remains.
Notes from my muse
I need to dispel from my mind the ambition of Mt. Wildness—a place that isn't real. How much better to pursue it while remembering I'll never get there.
I just met two soulless beasts now in the dark. I must be nearing the Edge of Deep Water. What’s a soulless beast? Please consult the chapter titled The Cast within my book Going Alone.