The Sky is not the Limit – the Earth is.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we raise kids in North America with the idea that they can become anything they want to.
“The sky’s the limit,” we tell them.
“Oh, the places you’ll go!”
“You have boundless potential.”
In one way, cosmically speaking, I fully agree with this statement. We are beings descended from stardust and warm water. We have collectively figured out how to fly like birds, descend into the sea like whales, and visit the moon. We are continually probing ever deeper into ways of connecting with our solar system and its planets, and beyond, as well as with each other and other beings via technology. We discover more all the time about our own planet, even – the microbes, species and energy atoms governing it, and how to interact beneficially with them.
So, on one hand, we do have a great deal of ability, adaptability, and potential.
And yet, we still haven’t mastered sorting, composting and recycling most of our manufactured waste, or created a robot machine that will effectively clean toilets. In the end, humans still have to procure food, prepare it, eat it, and clean up after ourselves. We need to maintain our household space and environs, unless we are wealthy enough to hire someone else to do it. Which most of us are not.
So, in effect, the Earth is the limit. Our bodily needs are the limit. There is a limit to what a body can do, on its own or with others. Our basic survival is dependent on our inherent need for connection, cooperation and closeness with other humans.
The fact is that we are matter, and we always will be. It’s the truth of life.
I was pondering this last week as I did my weekly housecleaning. Material stuff. Earthy stuff. Adding it up, I estimate that I spend about 15-20 hours per week buying and preparing good, doing dishes, sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and maintaining a somewhat tidy house and yard without being a total neat freak. My gardens are rather unkempt, truthfully, and even to the lowest degree they require a few hours per week of care.
In short, there are limits to what I can accomplish, simply based on my need to survive and take care of my family. The Earth is the limit – the stuff of life – food, water, gas, time. Relationship – especially relationship.
In short, it takes an awful lot of humbling work to make a life. Basic labour, all of which is unpaid. Of course, it is paid in the dividends of peace, health and family time together. But it’s not seen as so valuable as the type of career one might have if they “reach for the stars”.
When we build up expectations in our children that they’ll have every need met and reach every goal, and be able to do everything they want – are we factoring in the amount of time they will need for simple chores and life management? For simple togetherness and connection without a price, beyond valuable, and with a great deal of potential for satisfaction and joy?
What about reaching into the ground? Adding, amending, composting, sowing, planting and reaping. Right here, in community with those around us.
How about “flourish where you’re planted”?
Read more of Lone Peep’s writing at Sledgehammer of Love.