When I was packing for my first four-week trip around mountainous regions, I gathered all my stuff, placed them on the bed and crammed them in my 40 liter backpack. Unfortunately, half of them was still on the bed.
I tried pushing them down from the top, inserting some of them on the sides and attaching them on the outside. With the remaining quarter left on the bed, I wondered. Should I get a bigger backpack? Should I bring two backpacks instead? Or should I just stick with this one?
Eventually, I took out all of my stuff, placed them back on the bed and asked myself, “What do you really need?” Five shirts, check. Two pairs of pants, check. A sachet of Tide, check. After carefully weighing each item as to how essential it was for my trip, things finally fit!
I had doubts though. Would I still be able to enjoy my trip with just these? Would I regret not bringing a sleeping bag? Would I miss the convenience of my own computer? Four weeks later, on the bus going home, I smiled realizing: I had everything I needed in my backpack. No more, no less.
Instinctively, we yearn for no limits. We want unlimited calls, unlimited rice, unlimited drinks. When I was packing, I secretly wished my backpack had unlimited space. I wanted to bring every thing with me, but my backpack said no.
Limits are sometimes there for good reason. They compel us to ask basic questions: “What do I really need?” When we start asking, we start weighing: “What’s more important?” And when we start listening, we begin to see the bigger picture.
Limits help us discover what is essential. Time, for example, helps us put things into perspective. It reminds us that we only have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and, probably, one lifetime to live. Without limits, however, every thing seems important.
When we dare to embrace limits, we learn to recognize what is essential, let go of what isn’t, and better appreciate what remains.