Absolute Potential?

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    Structure, guidelines, rules. These define us. They set the parameters by which we lead our lives, and they, counter-intuitively, allow us true access to the infinite potential life has to offer. Much in the same way an author cannot write mind for grammar, a musician cannot compose without mind for tempo, and a builder cannot construct without mind for engineering, a person cannot live without guidelines and direction.

    Sadly, although the world offers limitless potential, we as human beings are limited, and therefore cannot have it all. However, if we harness our energies, our minds and our souls, and we focus it on one goal, on one life, and on one path, we can achieve true greatness.


    soliek, very nice piece, but I’m not sure I agree with everything said. I do agree that structure, guidelines and rules help shape us, and are great to have when meeting specific goals and clinging to specific ideals are most important. But I think that improvisation and creativity are NOT best accessed when bound to structure and rules, but rather when one is free to explore anything beyond structure and rules. I think that is the difference between something “mainstream” and something unique.

    What do you think?



    Are you drunk.maybe you had too many shots at a sheva berachos, vort ,bar, or shtiebel. There is limitless potential in all that we do. Rules help us reach those lofty goals and soar to the clouds above. If you don’t abide by all the rules you won’t be able to soar to the cloads. they won’t let you on the plane.


    mexi…i think its you who is drunk…your post is utterly incoherent.

    Middlepath: I was considering whether or not to make this piece more specific and literal, but i decided on metaphorical and thought that would convey my point; apparently it didn’t. It happens 🙂

    I’ll explain.

    Take writing as an example. Suppose I find grammar terribly restrictive, so I decided to chuck it in favor of a more Jackson Pollack style of writing. Decipher the following sentence: Stick cup stapler hungry computed. You can’t; it’s meaningless unless you abide by the rules of grammar and sentence structure, in which case that conglomeration of meaningless words becomes something more like this: The stick, after a long day of computing, told the stapler and cup that he was hungry.

    Now, that’s a perfectly valid sentence, albeit completely nonsensical. Would you ever have known that the above sentence is what I meant from that nonsensical string of words at the beginning of the previous paragraph? No. As counter-intuitive as it seems, abiding by the seemingly restrictive rules of grammar opens, to a writer, the limitless possibility of language and expression.

    Now I’ll address your point.

    What if, while abiding by the rules of grammar, I decided to use a sentence fragment. What then. Well, it depends entirely on my intention. If i used a sentence fragment because, out of ignorance, I could find no other, more suitable option, then I’d be wrong, and it should be revised. If, however, I used the sentence fragment for a purpose, as I did above, then it is entirely justified. In fact, it adds to the effect and would be sanctioned by even the sternest of grammarians.

    Back to my intended point. When a person is confronted with a world like ours, with all that it has to offer from kedusha to tumah and everything in between, it’s hard to know where to start. Should I start with yeshiva; should I start with a girlfriend; should i start with a job, and if so, which job? Perhaps that job in a bar. Maybe I should get a tattoo because it looks cool? That restaurant over there looks like it has really good food, maybe i should eat there. Maybe I shouldn’t. WHERE DO I GO AND WHAT DO I DO!?

    Along comes something called the Torah and says HEY! OVER HERE!!! THIS WAY!!! The Torah provides us with a path, a map with which to navigate life. Without this map, this guide, we could very well drown in life’s possibility, never using any of our potential because we’re never sure where to invest it. To us it seems obvious, which areas should merit our focus. However, That’s because we have something telling us that, giving us a clear picture of what is right and wrong, proper and improper. There are many areas in which a person can excel in life, some proper and some improper, but left to our own devices we would, quite possibly, just spin our wheels with indecision, never quite sure which way to go.

    So many people who lack a clear view of life, morality, and what is proper end up wasting their lives, spending it in a bitter morass of self doubt and identity crises. So many people turn this doubt and indecision into a drinking habit. So many turn to drugs. So many just end up self destructing. What a gift the Torah is, that it gives us life.


    Ah, yes, I see your point now. Structure and guidelines are what transform us from indecisive, unproductive people who wander around looking for meaning without any clear destination in mind, into people that are productive, contributory, and focused. I very much agree. And yes, there is no better set of guidelines and no better “book” of meaning than G-d’s Torah.

    If you think about it, it really makes sense why Jews are seemingly always at the top of their fields and industries. Because we grow up with guidelines, with structure, and are focused on intellect, on meaning, and on purpose. We are infused with a focus on productivity. Very few other nations in our day and age can say that. Our society itself embraces laziness and values shallowness, and children that grow up with such a mindset have little hope of becoming people with real meaning or purpose.

    What I was saying in my first post was really a step AFTER the foundation. Once we have absorbed the importance of structure and guidelines, and are focused on meaning and purpose, we can then look toward expanding on that by finding our potential. You can’t compose a song without first finding the root note on which to make it, and you can’t reach toward your full potential without first internalizing the basic structure and guidelines that shape the foundation on which you build. Without that foundation, your full potential is out of reach, and you will only be circling around underneath it, trying to find it.


    pretty much

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