Nessie’s Limitations

It’s hard to know your limitations. Nessie is a good example. She is a chocolate Lab mix. We’re still debating about the mix part. Some days I think it’s German Pointer. Today I’m convinced it’s antelope.

It was a beautiful day and, at one year old, she needed to burn off some steam. She has plenty of steam. She ran circles around me, racing and leaping, smelling and chasing for around three miles before she slowed. Just in case you were wondering, I did not go that far.

For every step I took she bounded ten. She slowed to plough into a bracing stream and later a soggy bog. She frantically pursued, but did not catch, a black cat, a random assortment of birds and a large, unperturbed bull.

Reaching Her Limit

Nessie finally slowed to a steady lope and then sat down – done, over, exhausted. Or so I thought. In reality she was just waiting for me and scanning for her next target.

After a solid four count, she was off. Her exhaustion was only a fantasy on my part.

Puppies Know No Limitations

Puppies will use their last reserve. You have to watch out for them because they won’t stop until they reach it. I once ended up carrying her for miles down a mountain trail because she hit her limit unexpectedly.

But that was months ago. Her one-year-old limits haven’t been challenged by me any time recently. Now it’s awe-inspiring to watch her run. Speed with abandon. People comment on it.

Limitations Move

A dear friend of the family rescues dogs when he’s not treating cancer. He has a theory:

“People say Labs need to exercise a certain amount every day to stay calm.
I say you’re only training them for longer distances.”

The reason puppies hit their limit is because they don’t know where it is. It keeps expanding. Yesterday’s limit is today’s warmup.

A long-term, determined commitment leads far beyond one day’s limitations. The only way to find out where the wall stands today is to reach it.

False Limitations

Far too often we don’t even come close to reaching our limits. We stop before we even break a sweat and settle for last year’s limitations without thinking.

Or maybe someone else sets your limits for you, flagging you down, warning you to be cautious, threatened by the ease of your progress.

That’s not the way we do things around here. It’s never been done before. Better stop before you get hurt.

Good Enough

We stop without ever catching a glimpse of our potential, content that we’ve done more than expected, feeling like we’ve earned a break.

I do not know which is worse – letting someone else decide our potential or stopping before we can discover it for ourselves. Either way we are left with the distant hollow echo of what we might have been.

Fear Of Failure

From hard experience we know that failure hurts. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard to bounce back. We pay a personal price. But we learn from it.

The silent price of staying firmly in our comfort zone is permanent ignorance of what heights we can achieve. In the long run, this is far more corrosive to the soul.

It would be better to fear stopping one step away from success, giving up too soon, being less than we were made to be.

Knowing My Limitations

So, for 2014, I have determined my goals. I do not have a resolution but instead I determine to be resolute.

I will push until I find out where my limits are and then push to expand them, to grow bigger than my training has allowed before.

Like Nessie, I will daily test my limits to see where they are now.

Because the only way you can truly know your limits is to reach them.

Nessie’s Nose

As I hit save on this post, Nessie’s cold nose hit my elbow. Tail wagging. Eyes glowing. Ready for more.

2014, here we go . . .


Photo Credit: Charlie enjoying Scappoose Creek by R0Ng via Compfight cc

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