Monday, August 15, 2011

Know your limitations

‘Blessed is the man who knows his limitations’ is a familiar saying which is also endorsed by another saying, ‘don’t bite off more than what you can chew’. As we have become very busy, particularly since the advent of the Internet and 3 G spectrum, most of us bite off more than what we can chew. We neither experience the taste of the food, nor are we able to swallow it. Many make too many commitments thinking that they have the world at their disposal and at the tip of their finger (keyboard and mobile phone). They never understand their limitations and leave much work undone.

Modern young people become learners of all and masters of none. Even several grown up people are becoming easy victims to this trend. I know a schoolteacher who, in order to earn more, bought a computer and joined a computer course. I warned him that considering his nature and his age, he would not be able to compete with the young generation in this field. I encouraged him to do more in his known field. However, motivated by desire, he did not listen and completed a few courses. The story is that after many years the computer remains closed, he continues his job as a teacher, and has only incurred more debt.

Modern technology provides new facilities, however they also demand more of us. Unless one keeps updated, he cannot compete with others and progress. Though this is true in every field of learning, things related to modern technology complicate many things, which were very simple in the past. When I used pen and paper to write not only did my handwriting improve, I also had to remember correct spelling and grammar. Now when I type, the computer automatically corrects my spelling. The ‘spelling and grammar check’ limits my need to know the language properly; this is progress but at the cost of personal growth. Machines replacing the mind make us a slave to systems rather than personal talents and values.

These new facilities cause many of us to bite off more than what we can chew and therefore fail in many areas. My editor took a manuscript five years before, but still has not had time to read it. Another friend took it to give his comments, but could not read more than one chapter. Recently, one of my friends after reading one of my articles said that there are a few mistakes and that he will correct them and send the back to me so that I can read it and give it back to him for use in his classes. Several months have gone and he has had no time to correct a four-page article.

This is not limited to the area of reading and writing. Not knowing one’s own limitations, several people want to involve themselves in the lives of others in the name of guiding and helping them. It is true that without such people’s help and concern many will run without knowing the goal. However, both those who need help and those who can help become too busy and often bite off more than what they can chew and end up returning back to the same spot from where they started. The only thing that progresses is their age, and not their vision (to help) and mission (to guide).

One antidote for the sickness of busyness: be focused. Knowing one’s own limitations will help us all. Unless requested, don’t jump to guide or to help others in every area of their life. Gone are the days where we jumped to help others without being asked, now it is considered interference and a nuisance. Even after several requests many cannot help others because of their busyness and multiple (unnecessary) commitments. The art of living ‘ONE DAY AT A TIME’ will help us to resolve several tensions. Doing ‘ONE THING AT A TIME’ will keep us focused and will help us to come out from the trap of busyness. Knowing one’s own limitation is essential.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, June 21, 2010

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