Thursday, April 8, 2010

Finding Your Limits... and going past them.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from the mother of barefoot dance, Isadora Duncan. Beyond being a fashion icon in her long dramatic scarves (like the one that killed her), she was a positive dynamo who went around saying, "My motto- Sans Limites." Thankfully, I took French through all of high school and can tell you that Sans Limites translates to "Without Limits." I love to think of this as the way to live my life and the perfect name for a crochet "company."

We all have limits... it's true. But reaching those limits and then working past them is what gives life its magic. My brain this week met my limit. (I took an exam early this morning on the perineal levels of the pelvis, origins and insertions of epaxial muscles, scapular muscles, and muscles of the brachium and antebrachium.... and the dreaded brachial plexus... I'm going to be recovering for a while.) I also have a chemistry exam tomorrow - which I have decided to sleep through and let it be the one that is dropped from my grade. The anal student in me has serious issues with this... but sometimes putting limits on your stress levels can be what keeps you going. I took the evening to crochet instead of continuing the frantic cram session.

As I sat there, still wanting to listen and learn while I stitched, I stumbled upon the Radiolab podcast on limits. Ironic, no? So the purpose of this blog was to encourage you to listen to it because I found it so inspiring.

Their story begins with a woman who has one great tale. She travels to Hawaii to compete in the IRON (wo)MAN competition. Swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles on a bike, and then run a marathon... Rock on, Lady! Just feet from the finish line her body reached its limit - what my physiology professor refers to as "hitting the wall" where it runs out of energy to burn and in her case... you can't stand up. Rather than give up, a voice inside her told her to keep going... and she made it... she crawled to the finish. She reached her limit... and crawled right past it.

Their story also goes on to cover the limit of our brain's capacity. (Mine has been reached and passed, and I'm happy to leave it just above its limit for now rather than pushing it even further... who would have thought I would be acing anatomy, and holding my ground in organic chem???) I've had a vague interest in the brain for most of my life. (My dad has researched it for longer than I've been alive.) This interest was intensified after spending some time in the hospital with my mother dear who needed brain surgery. They even mention the book Proust was a Neuroscience a book that I'm waiting to borrow from my mom once she finishes it. They told stories of people I would really like to have around to coach me in anatomy. These people have amazing memories. Their brains work in such a different way that they can memorize long lists of random numbers, one man can recite from memory all of Dante's Inferno in Italian... and he doesn't actually speak Italian. So cool!

Such a good podcast. An hour and three minutes of awesomeness. Check it.

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