Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is it accepting limitations or just a really fancy excuse?

"One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity."
~ Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the greatest painters of all time. He was revered and respected among the Art World. Many reflect on his ability to remain humble and happy inspite of great adversity.

What very few realize that in the last three decades of Renoir’s life, he was plagued with the debilitating disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis. His body became crippled and deformed, making simple daily tasks near impossible.

But the really cool part is that Renoir kept painting. He would have an assistant wedge the brush between his crippled fingers and wrap his hand to keep the brush there and prevent irritation.

This painting I found on Wikipedia was painted by Renoir, of himself, in 1910. Well into the advanced stages of arthritis. He painted it while he was in severe pain. He pushed himself saying, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

So, do you think, at any given time, anyone would have respected Renoir less if he had said, “the price is too high, I am not going to paint anymore?”

If Renoir’s daily tasks were less creative, more mundane, would he have had just as much passion for it? Would he have kept going through the pain? And would anyone have blamed him?

People defy the odds all the time. Those who are never supposed to walk – run. Those who are supposed to succumb to cancer – rebel and live. Those who are told they should sit in the back of the bus – start a national movement. Those who are told they will never amount to anything – change the world by developing new scientific and mathematical theories. Those who are told they lack talent – create the most iconic amusement park and characters of all time.

But, if any of these people had said, “Oh, okay. You are right. I should accept my limitations and move on.” Would the world have cared?

At what point do we “give ourselves a break” and at what point do we say, “Suck it up and keep going.” When is it accepting limitations and when is it just making excuses?

Let’s say there are two victims of childhood abuse. One victim says, “I am the way I am because of what happened. I will always be like this. I will always need that.” The other says, “Well, life is rough. Too bad. Now I am going on with my life, changing things I don’t like.”

Which one is right?

If you accept limitations are you only making excuses for what you don’t really want to do in the first place? Are you giving up, selling out?

If you ignore your limitations, seek to change things beyond your control, are you being realistic?

What if you heart echoes the words of Renoir but your body and your psyche refuse to comply? How do you resolve the ever present conflict in your soul?

Just some food for thought. I am interested in what you all have to say.


Emmy said...

Wow, definitely gets me thinking. I think we all have more potential than we realize and can ever understand... and well some of that potential might not be able to be fully reached in this life and that is okay.
I think as moms, and probably especially LDS moms have a tendency to not give themselves breaks and say it is okay. I think anything can be over come, it might takes years of help, the power of the atonement and some extra help... but it is possible.

Square Root of Family said...

Hard to say. On the Biggest Loser, I am amazed at how some individuals lose 100 or more pounds in a relatively short time period. Most have tried dieting unsuccessfully their whole lives. When it comes down to it, some of them just needed a Jillian to push them around a bit and not let them give up on themselves. But I think it takes some wisdom to know when you are needing a rest and to give yourself a break vs. a kick in the pants. In the Biggest Loser scenario, the people depend on someone who knows better than they do when to push vs. when to rest and how much they can take. I guess in our lives, we need to have the same dependence on Heavenly Father so that we know when to endure and keep trying and not make excuses verses when we need a break. He knows best.

Fiauna said...

I believe in moderation in all things. I don't ever believe one should accept defeat when they are told they can't. Trying isn't an option, it's a necessity. But I do believe in limitations. At what cost does one pursue a dream? At the cost of their home, family, life? Never.

Anonymous said...

great question~!

for me, i have had to learn to listen. To the spirit and my body. I will push myself into a grave, so my test is learning to give myself a break. But I know others struggle w/ the opposite.

I say stay tuned to the spirit! and 2 nephi 31:3

heather said...

I think you touch on two different things here.

One being a people's locus of control. I think the people who take the view that THEY are in control of what happens to them, and what they do will always be happier and more successful in life that the people who wallow in their circumstances and consider themselves victims of the life.

The second one, I think is passion. Forgive me for seeming a little over dramatic, but I have often thought that for me writing is almost as important to me as breathing. If someone chopped off my hands, I'd still find a way to write. I'm guessing that the same went for Renoir.

I think these two things -the internal locus of control with the passion to overcome is what creates GREATNESS in people. Those are the people history remembers.

As for me, I know there is greatness in me, but I haven't worked hard enough to own it yet. I have though learned to be gentle with myself. To forgive myself, and to try better the next day.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Has me doing some thinking. Something that pops into my mind, is how we are all here writing our own stories. At times we become stuck on something that has happened in the past. We need to drop it and move forward. Some times we need to push through the difficult stuff to get the the beautiful reward, just as Renoir has shown us. It is never to late to change some thing we don't like.