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About Life

Limits

For Markus

About a year ago I suffered a stroke. An almighty warning shot across the bow. A lot was in the works and in the making. Many plans had been made, a lot of joyful anticipation for the next adventure was in the air yet the eyes were opened wide. Everything came to a halt.

Its is said that people change in a health crisis. And Carl Brandauer? No, he didn’t really or did he? Certainly what did change was how I looked at things and what I thought I was but really wasn’t, that too vanished and went overboard. What was left was just myself as I really am I think and perhaps should have become a long time ago.

Benign arguments are now something I avoid instinctively and more than before.

Vanities and puffed up blustering, never my thing anyway, have too now lost their appeal altogether. I avoid exposure to such things.

And the desire to confront foolish statements and behaviour, especially from those who should know better, that has been eradicated completely.

It initially became a formidable challenge for me to now muster acceptance of and tolerance for ignorance, particularly from younger and more impatient or even immature colleagues yet it comes as a surprise how easy it turned out to become eventually.

In the same way the capacity for forgiveness and letting go of arguments and irritation has grown immensely. In this new world I am allowed to continue to live in, not every argument about matters seem to be mine anymore to mediate. Not every wrong statement is for me to attack, not every circumstance, however regrettable and wrong, for me to deal with and improve. Not every battle in this war is mine to fight.

All too often it is others, mostly work colleagues driven by questionable ambitions or motives, who make life more difficult than it needs to be and should be. All of this has less meaning for me now, bothers me less, if at all. He who has been floored this way and, as a result, has been so very close to the window towards the beyond, has little or no time anymore for such things. It’s just how it is. If anything, such worldly and human made matters are cause for a little irritation at times and huge deep regret at others. Something has been understood which results in a change of conduct and approach in the time that’s left. Part of that are is the appreciation of limits or boundaries experienced. One adjusts to them more, appreciates them differently, recognises them better and easier, for recognising them one must.

Many Scharlatans encourage us to break boundaries, that they are merely in our mind, woven from our own weakness, that our possibilities know no bounds or that we set them all ourselves. ‘Everything goes’ they tell us and that we are our own worst enemy in not attempting more. I listened intensely to those voices myself once. Today I consider them as dangerous nonsense.

What a lot better it would be if we tried instead to better our understanding of who we really are in every aspect. The better knowing of one’s real inner boundaries would follow and above all, the insight into the difference between what are our own real boundaries within which we are free to move and live, for which and what we were made, and those boundaries which we are offered falsely by the said Scharlatans in commerce and politics which try to tell us for their own benefit only, what is good for us. I am not talking about the latter.

The former are the ones I am thinking of here, however, those boundaries with which we were endowed, which are ours alone as individuals to explore and know at every stage in life, which cost nothing to explore other than personal effort, reason and humility. To get to know them is very difficult at times but without it it is like searching for meaning in a dark forest. To not try to learn about them is a sign of ignorance and will lead for sure to enduring mistakes, suffering and disappointment. I leant about it all the hard way. I nearly didn’t make the cut.

In my youth I felt an urgent need to explore and experience my boundaries, even breaking them where possible, but this has changed into an insight that it’s more important to be reminded of them, anticipate them better rather than reach and feel them, the real ones I mean, not the ones we need to continue to try and break down. Where once a drive for reaching those real boundaries was predominant, it is today more care to not to reach them at all which informs my actions.

It is not surprising that many things and actions are not as easy to deal with as they once were yet very much to my surprise, and often unexpectedly so, some things have become an awful lot easier. Strange this, but sheer force seems unnecessary now yet care and consideration have come to the fore. Where once there was this desire to break head first straight through the middle, everything now goes through the head first instead.

Yet I still can get it wrong at times when it comes to reading the signs of emerging exhaustion or recognising boundaries approaching when I walk through life. Perhaps it’s that bridge too far on a physically demanding mountain hike or the mental stamina required to sit through long business meetings which can often last till late at night. The right judgement of one’s physical and mental state is not always an easy task and things like physical strength and ability to concentrate are not always the same. Every day is different and even seasons and the weather can have a critical impact as does the quality of sleep the night before. The punishment for getting it wrong are longer periods of rest required and general lack of well being. But in time, I hope. I will learn even better to read the warning signs and to appreciate the symptoms of fatigue.

I have stopped lighting the candle on both ends. I burn slower, less bright but more gentle and calmer. I don’t give up easily anymore and I recognise more patience in all things.

Youth isn’t strong on patience. It mustn’t be or it wouldn’t be youth. To hold issues unresolved in one’s mind, the ability to wait patiently, these are not youth’s forte. Why should it be? It’s not been taught in our culture of instant gratification anyway. We are encouraged to want it, to want it all, to want it all now, to want it all now and our way.

Carl Brandauer returned sooner to work after his stroke than he perhaps should have but as someone he could and perhaps should have been earlier. Perhaps the same but with less baggage, ambition and better judgment. Alas, everyone travels on their own Odyssey to overcome obstacles on their way to their true selves. Why that has to be so remains a mystery to me despite every effort to understand it. Yet to learn and feel one’s boundaries sooner rather than later seems to me such a key to a better, simpler and more agreeably journey to the final destination whatever that may be.

Take care and good luck

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