Friday, September 6, 2013


Early this morning, I met with one of the ways Nature tells you a limit broke. It wasn't one of the more glorious limits.

If you remember back to the first post, I mention that my vice is overeating. Well, this morning around three, my body reminded me of the “out the front door” policy my stomach has.

I remained philosophical about it all. I thought about how amazing it was our body has limits. I mean, we have built-in sensors that tell us we've had way too much. Even more amazing is the fact we have the ability to ignore these sensors, to tell our bodies that it doesn't know what it's talking about. We can go past our limits, make ourselves last longer.

Of course, this also means we're a bit cursed.

See, I began thinking how some limits are easier to break than others. Take overeating. Nowadays, that's a real easy limit to go past. Some of us perhaps can't even feel it anymore. We can eat sunup to sundown and never stop shoveling food into our mouths. If you think about it, it's quite a feat. You can make your body several times bigger and still move around. You can weigh hundreds of hundreds of pounds more than your body should and still live.

But take another limit: exercising. That's hard. Tuesday, I couldn't jog more than 58 seconds at once. Not because I couldn't keep going, but because I quit. I hit my limit, so I stopped. And I didn't move too much more since then.

Until Friday morning's offering to the porcelain god. Somehow, this made me realize that people look at our bodies' limits backwards. We break the easy limits and completely ignore harder ones. After all, it's a lot easier to eat a box of doughnuts than it is to jog for more than a couple of minutes.

So, wait, how does this relate to Stoicism? I mean, it's all well and good, but the heck, man?

Stoicism teaches that discomfort isn't all that bad. It's more of a nothing. It's also says the same thing about pleasure. The limits we're choosing to break has more to do with what we believe to be good and, as I often say, pleasure rarely means good.

Yes, I do take a lot of pleasure out of eating. I do. I suppose that's not so bad because I enjoy toast with jam as much as I do most any other dish. But, let's face it, I think it's the act of eating I enjoy more than the food. And I broke the threshold of how much I should eat for years. It took a toll. And though I feel pleasure eating, I often feel bad about it, even during the act.

But now I'm finding that breaking the tough limits is a heck of a lot better for me. Pushing past the pain, this discomfort, the urge to quit, I jogged my butt for five minutes. Broken up in 30 second intervals within 10 minutes, but still, that's more than I ever did before. And I took a quick stock of how I felt. Not that bad. A little heavy in the feet and sweaty, but nothing that wiped the smile off my face.

We need to face up to our discomforts. It's a simple fact if we want to go through life. As we get older, we realize more the hardships of life. In fact, the ages we can reach is just proof of our amazing ability to break limits. But it comes with problems, many that I don't see too many people ready to go up against. Breaking the easy limits, like how much you can eat or how long you can sleep in a go, aren't going to make your olden ages golden. But, beating aches and pains, a little sleep deprivation (don't go wild. I'm not looking to kill you, just uncomfortable), and little more discomfort and you can live those years golden.

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