We Are All Limited. So
We are limited. Who isn’t? Some limitations are more obvious, others less so. The only real way to overcome this condition is by another’s love for us. But the other is limited, too...
by Giancarlo Cesana
I am an expert on limits, not in the sense of a particular competency about handicaps, but in the sense that I am limited. Limits cannot be completely surmounted; there is a certain point beyond which we cannot go. Certainly, we can have the experience of going past something, but it is an approach to a threshold that, in the end, is impassable. Thinking that this threshold can be infinitely crossed means thinking that man is infinite. This is the prevailing, superficial view of our society, but daily experience shows that it is not true. We are all limited, but limits cannot define us. If this were the case, we would all have to stop at a certain point, beyond which we would have no hope, and where sooner or later we all end up: death.
If I am the ugliest man in the world, but the most beautiful woman in the world loves me, I am not bothered by being the ugliest man in the world. I don’t care about that at all, because I am the object of what I care most about, which is someone else’s love for me. So the only real way to overcome the limit is by another’s love. In the same way, if I am a Down’s Syndrome child and I have parents who love me, I grow up happy; if my parents aren’t sure about me, I grow up unhappy. What vanquishes the limit is love, welcoming, hospitality–someone who takes you as you are. We are so limited that we need someone else in order to live. All men work so hard to be appreciated–so that others will say, “You’re so good, I love you”–because they feel deeply the problem of their being limited, the fact that the fulfillment of life is in another. The more limited we are, the more we need someone else, and the more our need is manifested in evident terms–not only physical, but also psychological, existential, and emotional.
Who fulfills the desire?
The whole problem in life is that the other who fulfills us is limited too. Even you, to whom I say “I love you,” severely experience being limited. Even the other person is not enough. Jeremiah said, “Cursed is the man who trusts another man.” The problem then is who fulfills, and how, our desire for fulfillment. Is there anyone who conquers it? Because if there is one, I will devote my whole life to him.
I need someone else to help me, I need to lean on someone else, and to entreat; as the Pope says, I have to pray, to kneel down.
The most important thing is having friends, someone who loves you. An educator is great if he solicits a person to be whole. Freedom is solicited by the truth, not by psychology. From this point of view, a person who has a meaningful “affective” certainty, who is capable of attachment, will be an educator ten times better than one who is affectively uncertain.
A condition to be shared
Thinking that we are infinite, unlimited–this is the greatest limit of all human relationships, especially the closest ones. When someone says “forever” to his beloved, it means one of two things: either he is made the wrong way, so that he desires something that it is impossible to have, or there is somebody who can make him achieve what is impossible for him to achieve. Christ, for believers, is the answer to the fact that what seemed impossible to achieve is now achievable. That is to say, life is stronger than death, because one Man has vanquished death, promising this victory to us; this is the reason why I am a Christian, in that it is the only positive hypothesis in answer to what I desire. Today’s great limit is being distracted from the experience of our own limitation. A man who does not understand that he is limited is dangerous to others. How can someone not realize that he is limited? All that has to be done is to reduce his desires. For example, if I persuade you that you have to work, go to the discotheque, “drop some Ecstasy” every once in a while, chase women, etc–if I persuade you that your life can be filled like this, you no longer have an idea of limits, as long as things go your way. We live in a society that reduces desire to something that can be calculated, while the truth is that man’s deep desire is desire for the infinite, the desire not to submit to this limitation. Limits are our human condition, to be shared. This is the only way in which we can respect also the people whose limitations are apparently more evident than ours.