Limits are everywhere I go these days. It seems as if almost every post I read and every question I answer on MyRACentral has an element of someone beating their head against the wall of limits. Of no longer being able to work, no longer being able to kick a ball around with their kids, of having trouble cleaning the tub and the feelings that come with this loss of normal. And outside of work, they are there, too. Someone I know struggles with finding worth and self-esteem in a life that is shrinking around them, questioning who they are now that they can do less. And yet another flails in frustration, alternating between anger and sadness, frequently reduced to tears and all of it because of limits.
And it is there within myself, as well. I'm getting closer to the release of The Book and reading writers’ blogs about what happens after your work is published, how to promote and get it passing before eyeballs of potential readers. And there are terrific recommendations about blogging, using social media like Twitter and Facebook, about responding thoughtfully to comments, replying to e-mails from readers, creating a network with other authors and leaving thoughtful comments on their blog posts and don't forget writing the next book and as quickly as possible. And I look at it all and am exhausted at the thought because I am at my limits now, usually whizzing past them in a whirl of activity and adrenaline that keeps me burning through my store of energy for the day and well into next week before I notice that perhaps I should stop and have a rest or that ache in my shoulder will become an injury. And I wonder how someone with a disability, high levels of chronic pain and significantly lower energy than your average person can ever make themselves a success. I am within spitting distance of having a book with myname on it and I wonder if it will do what I hope, which is get out there and be of use to people and in so doing, also be a bit of use to me, helping to pay the bills. Or will it all stutter to a stop and turn to nothing? Will it even be possible to make a living as an author with a disability?
When I try to help others, I speak of managing your expectations. Mention that planning to dance the Argentine tango when you are having trouble walking is perhaps setting yourself up for failure. I speak of patience, of putting one foot in front of the other - literally or metaphorically - and persevering, keep moving, keep going and you will get there eventually. And perhaps it won’t be dancing a perfect tango, but it might be moving to music in your own way and that is good, too. I suggest that life has a way of working out, that if something isn't happening now, it will when you're ready. That in the process of becoming ready, in the journey towards that goal, you sometimes find what you didn't know you were looking for and when you think about it all, you come to believe that everything happened at the exact right time.
I do believe all of this, know that life hardly ever takes a straight path to get to where you think you wanted to go. I know that the circuitous road can help you redefine your goal, can make you realize you wanted to zig instead of zag. That wherever you end up will be because you showed up and worked hard and lo and behold, it will probably be just the thing for you. And I know the key is to dream, but not get too specific in terms of dates and times because that way lies setting yourself up for failure yet again.
I know it is about looking at what you have, not what you don't have. That the way to being happy and finding joy, even when you're not quite – or anywhere near - where you thought you were going to be is to pay attention and see what you have, truly see and appreciate it.
But every now and again, when the limits are so very close, it's hard to see the forest for the tree you just rammed into.