women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
-The Eagles

Nobody like limitations. They nag at us. They restrict us. They hem us in.

They pinch like a shirt collar two sizes too small.

I saw a new commercial this morning on television (Now see, if I had Tivo, this wouldn't have happened. I'm not sure if this is a drawback or a selling point. Perhaps we get enough freebies in this lifetime. Perhaps we should be required to watch the blamed things to earn our MTV. Perhaps it builds character. Perhaps I'm full of s#@t.)

The commercial ended with the slogan, "Because nothing is more beautiful than unlimited potential."

I don't remember what they were selling (sorry ad-men) but I agree whole heartedly with the sentiment.

Unlimited potential is the most intoxicating feeling in the world.

We, here in the states, don't seem to deal well with limitations. I don't know if it is the result of all those wide open spaces, manifest destiny, the new frontier. Or if it just that we are, by nature, stubborn.

The good ol' US of A was born from the willingness of people to leave behind what they knew as familiar, and venture into the unknown. We are all (with the exception of Native-Americans) newcomers. And all of our ancestors, at some point, decided to throw off the limitations of their old life and forge a new one in a new land.

Whether they came over on the Mayflower or crossed the border last week.

We want to:
  • Worship God in our own way.
  • Keep a gun on the top shelf of the closet if we so choose.
  • Decide for ourselves who is best suited to run the country
  • Be able to drive our cars as often, as far, and as fast as we like.
  • Own our own homes
  • Eat out when we are busy. Or tired. Or stressed out.

We want to live out the "American dream" We want - we have the right, dammit - to be free.

And we don't take kindly to someone or something telling us,

"You can't."

There's a reason it is called the "Bill of Rights" instead of the "Bill of Desires."

But a funny thing happens on the way to our own individual declarations of independence.

We bump up against limits.

  • Not enough time.
  • Not enough money.
  • Not enough health.
  • Not enough faith.
  • Not enough us.

I don't know about you, but I spend most of my days close to home these days. Cuts down on the gas bill.

I don't know about you, but I worry that my house is unsellable in today's market.

I don't know about you, but both my candidates lost in the Indiana primary yesterday - and the one that won the primary is a walking advertisement for term limits.

I don't know about you, but my grocery bill scares me.

For every freedom, there is a counterbalance; a price that must be paid for the lifting of the limits. Just like the speeding tickets we get when we ignore the legal limit.

I can drive all I want, if I'm willing to sell my children into white slavery.

I can sell my house tomorrow, provided I'm willing to accept $30,000 less than it was worth a year ago.

I can overthrow majority rule, if I am willing to accept dictatorship.

I can eat out every night, provided I don't mind bankrupting our retirement savings and ruining my health with too many Mcfatty Mcmeals.

Maybe, limits are trade-offs of a sort. An ever-shifting series of transactions with life.

I spent the last couple days, widening my search for the "perfect" spot to vacation in with my DH next year for our 30th anniversary.

You know the one:

  • Close to the beach, but not so close that topless women are parading by (although DH probably would not think this a problem)
  • Comfortable, but not fancy
  • Charming wildlife like birds & monkeys, but no mosquitoes
  • Romantic, but not smarmy
  • Warm, but not hot
  • Private, but not desolate
  • Quiet, but not boring
  • Fun, but not frenzied.
  • Nice, but inexpensive

I feel like Goldilocks...

Every time I think I have found something that is "just right"...

it isn't.

Usually because it costs too much. There is no free lunch people. especially when that lunch is a tropical picnic on a deserted isle.

And to make matters worse, my computer is running like



Like my pocketbook, I am afraid it has reached its limit. I ran a disk clean up and de-frag yesterday, but I am still waiting for things to load.

And waiting...

And waiting...

Still waiting...

I am trying to think positively here, and come up with a philosophical reason why limits are good. It's hard right now to look beyond the frustration.

And then I think of Baby Boy, and how, when he was two, I put a gate between him and the stairs, so he wouldn't fall. I am sure he felt just as frustrated then as I do today.

But the limits kept him safe.

I don't know if I am safer because of my limits. But I do know enough to respect them. I can sense when things are getting out of whack.

I know when I exceed my limits. When my gauge is too loose and I need to tighten up the stitches of my life.

And I can sense intuitively when my limits are bigger than I realize. When it is time to widen the circle of my experience, change to larger needles, and turn what I thought should be a tightly wound scarf

Into a capacious afghan.

When I was younger, I pushed the limits more, as youth are wont to do. Now I am (usually) content to live within my limits.

But sometimes, it just feels like the limits chafe.

Sometimes I hear the irresistible call of unlimited potential:

"Just because you haven't, doesn't mean you can't."

So I pick up my needles again, and...





And the limits?

Fade to black.


Elysbeth said...

Another post to ponder. I'm a fan of early century mysteries, and it's interesting to me that the people are the same, yet the living is so different.

Donna Lee said...

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should....As Americans I sometimes think we do what we want and forget that there are consequences. I told my children when they were little "you can do anything, yes anything, you want. As long as you are willing to accept the consequences".

Pat K said...

Again, she makes me think. Right on, sister.

Anonymous said...

We'll have our 35th in two years, so I'm hoping to save up for a nice trip. Right now, Hawaii sounds great- beautiful but still in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Limits are good! God gives us limits for many things. Mostly it is for our protection, just like the gate and the stairs. Sometimes limits help us be more creative, especially with our food budget. ;0)

Muskegon is a nice frugal place to vacation. Beautiful dune and beaches and I promise not to go topless. LOL

Knit and fall back in it said...

Limits are good, but it's OK to push them just a little once in a while. :)

La Cabeza Grande said...

From my experience, I'm usually OK with limits - as long as they don't cramp my style, and as long as I get to set my own boundaries.

American, dream on, right?

amy said...

I've been married 8 1/2 years and am working on our third child, and we still haven't taken a honeymoon. We chose to save for a house instead. Limits, or challenges? I'm glad we did, because we managed to buy a house right before the market got crazy. Limits, or market correction? The housing market has been out of whack for years, and hopefully it's correcting itself. I feel bad for newly married couples who can't hope to afford even a starter home. We were lucky we bought when we did, but we also knew our goals and our limits. Three and a half years later when we sold our tiny starter home to move to our current home--not our dream home, but a home we love and can afford (those limits again)--the buyers put down the same down payment we had, but whereas it was 10% for us, it was only 5% for them. Crazy market. We then took ALL of the money we'd made, added as much as we could afford, and used it as the down payment for our current house, unlike most people we knew who used their profit to buy lots and lots of stuff to go into a new house.

I don't mind limits. I'm proud of what we've accomplished by working hard and living wisely.