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Vignette 49/52. The Magic of Limits.

“What are the new restrictions?”

It’s become a normal question like “What are we doing today?”

After a few months of a merry-go-round of different levels of restrictions, we have gotten used to sudden changes in social distancing, closures, and driving. It was a dizzying spring and summer for a lot of people.

For us, limits mean an opportunity for creativity.

I love limits. Limits are at the heart of The Serenity Prayer: to accept the things that I cannot change and change the things that I can.

This is also at the heart of Stoicism, a philosophy that has guided our family over the years, and especially this year. We often forget the most important part of that prayer: the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s as if my family had been preparing for this for the last few years of living with our own set of restrictions – no internet, no electricity, no water, and at times, limited rainwater.

With these limits, we learn how to be efficient with our time, our available resources, and how to be creative with those available resources.

One of the restrictions that we have had since spring was driving days. We haven’t been able to drive on Mondays. We turned Mondays into another weekend day. A home day. If Chris needs to go down for internet, he walks for 40 minutes down the mountain and hitches a ride to town.

We do not spend one second on complaining about the limit. We immediately switch gears into planning and working with and around it.

Beaches are closed? It’s a good time to develop inner work practices at home?
No travel? We stay and save money and finish the bathrooms.
Classes are cancelled? How can we switch to zoom or keep connected? _
Strength club is cancelled? Let’s work out at home together.

And my kids have watched us use limits to our advantage, use limits as a point of curiosity, and pivot without overthinking.

Universities are all online for 2021? It’s ok, Mom, I will do a gap year and wait and see.
The job opportunities are scarce? It’s ok, Mom, I will start my own business.
Classes are cancelled? It’s ok, Mom, can you recommend some books I should read with this spare time? It’s ok, Mom, I wanted to work on my drawings…I wanted to work on my baking…I wanted to organize the house…I wanted to write…

I frequently give them activities with limits to stretch their imagination.

Our sofa was an island in the middle of lava. You can’t touch the floor. How can you get a banana from the kitchen?

We can only use two colours for this art exercise. How can use two colours to express this idea?

Sometimes too many choices lead to indecision or paralysis. When we can see limits as freeing, we understand how to apply our wisdom to know the difference.

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