Limits. Sometimes people put them on another person; sometimes they put them on themselves.
Sometimes people don’t see limits at all, just challenges to overcome. Sometimes limits are needed to protect others' safety, but more often than not we impose our own limits and have trouble seeing that it’s okay sometimes to try and push beyond them.
Sometimes, my being self-conscious of my appearance makes me hesitant to do things and I have to push my own self-composed limits to do something I might enjoy. I studied French from junior high through college and even spent a summer in France. I still love the language, culture, art and history of France. When I heard years ago that the library would be hosting a French conversation group, I was excited to attend, but nervous. I wanted to meet other people who shared the same passion I had, but I did not want to see lots of curious glances nor did I want to answer questions if people asked them. But I went anyway and enjoyed myself immensely.
When I was 18, complications during a back surgery left me without any use of my right arm or hand. My doctor assured my parents that they would return to normal with a little time. Within a few months, I regained use of my arm but not my hand. My fingers and thumb were clenched together all the time, as if I were making a fist. It was of little use.
I was as independent as I could be, but there were obviously some things I could not do, like tie my own shoes. At an age when my peers were often independent, I had become dependent. Surgery years later allowed my fingers to open again, so I could again do things that had been impossible before.
I still struggle with some things, so again, there are limitations, unfortunately. Sometimes those limits are difficult to keep in mind as I live life. Other times, I try to see if I can at least try and push beyond those limits and do something I don’t know that I can do.
I have always loved hot air balloons. Right before Rochesterfest, the Liberty Bell project (an effort to give veterans a free ride in the balloon to thank them for their service) announced that they were looking for volunteers to train to help during the launch and landings. I quickly volunteered but explained about my nerve injury. The response that I received was that they were sure that they could find something for me to do, so I went to the first night of training and eventual launch. I was able to help and found that I really wasn’t that limited at all.
I don’t know if I ever will get that chance again, but at least I know I can do it. I was excited that I had pushed myself into at least making an effort to see if I could accomplish something that I thought I possibly couldn’t.
The pandemic limited us enough over the past 16 months. Don’t let others or yourself limit how you live your life. Push yourself and see what you can do. Maybe you will not accomplish everything you want to, but you will never know until you try.
Nicole Diercks is an avid Minnesota Twins fan and a caregiver for little souls. Send comments on columns to Jeff Pieters, firstname.lastname@example.org.