Tuesday, September 12, 2006

living with limits

"To live within limits. To want one thing. Or a few things very much and love them dearly. Cling to them, survey them from every angle. Become one with them--that is what makes the poet, the artist, the human being."
--Johann Goethe

this quote really jumped out at me. i've been struggling with wanting too many different things in my life. i could make a list--i've made so many lists. let me not detour into that. the point is, i feel that if i could be more single minded, or even just pick five things to focus on, i'd be so much more successful, i could excel, i'd be more fulfilled. it's just that i can't pick!

so then i look up this goethe fellow to see what he's all about, and here's what i find:

Johann Wolfgang Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German polymath: he was a poet, novelist, dramatist, humanist, scientist, theorist, painter, and for ten years chief minister of state for the duchy of Weimar.

Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.... The author of Faust and Theory of Colours, he inspired Darwin with his independent discovery of the human intermaxillary jaw bones and focus on evolutionary ideas. Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a primary source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry, and philosophy.

dang! this guy doesn't sound like someone who narrowed his vision to a few key things. or maybe he did.

i think i need to pick 5 things--or less. i'll find 5 that are rich, interesting, and inspiring, and live mindfully, deliberately, within those limits.

1 comment:

LMI1 said...

In Goethe's time it was also easier to be a "dabbler." Today, we live in a world of specialists. Everyone has some archane area of knowledge or ability that defines them. I've tried to be many things- was an O.K. biochemist for awhile (I hated having to specialize in one little area within biochemistry) and became a pretty good economist instead. Now I also dabble in writing. I guess I wouldn't even advise anyone younger than 40 to even attempt to isolate themselves to a particular area of study or occupation. Throw yourself into something that feels right- learn from it- use it to define your next life step and see where that takes you. Just throwing out my life experience here!