illimitable limitations: 3 philosophical ponderings on human mortality

On recent early mornings, I’ve felt an autumnal coolness in the air (though within spare hours, it’s gotten hot as the dickens!)…

butterfly - Clevedale.jpghummingbird-moth-clevedale





I’ve also noticed the butterflies and hummingbird moths that for weeks have flitted and fluttered around our bushes appear progressively fewer in number and in increasingly less moments during the day…

Both signal summer’s inevitable close, leading me to think about limits, verily, limitations. Human ones. My ones.

I am mortal. It occurs to me (no new thought, doubtlessly, others have considered it, but it’s new to me) that being aware of my end grants me the possibility of boundless freedom from the constraints of care and concern, worry and woe about this life (chiefly, these days, my anxieties provoked by November’s presidential election!). Yes, my life in this world and the fine company of those with whom I’m privileged to share this earthly pilgrimage are important to me. Very. Yet, as I am limited by death, this life will not always have me in it.

I am a thinker. My thoughts aren’t particularly profound, breaking new ground in human contemplation or piercing yet unknown realms of human consciousness. However, as an enthusiast of the Enlightenment, I delight in reason. I spend gobs of time frolicking, romping with reason; thinking about theses and theories, issues and ideas, people and places. (I oft answer Pontheolla when she, incessantly, calls me from what appears to her to be idleness to do something: “Baby, I was born to think!”) In so doing (though I’d love to be able to claim the quality the Apostle Paul describes of “understanding all mysteries and all knowledge”[1]), I am constantly, relentlessly reminded of the limits of my intellect. The fullness of existence – whether what is known, can be known, or will be known and whether I use the term “God”, “Truth”, or “Reality” – escapes the grasp of my comprehension. Always.

I am a body. Despite the freedom I experience in my awareness of my death and my unbounded flights of thought, because I am mortal with a mind enwrapped in flesh and blood, I want things; among them, food and drink (on occasion, water!), exercise and rest, money and security, calm of heart and peace of mind. Always. There is nothing I want of which I do not want more. Always. There is nothing I want of which I can get enough to satisfy my want. Ever.

I am a mortal thinker in a body. Three elements of my existence, each characterized by illimitable limits or limited illimitability.

I will, must think more about this. For now, I will enjoy the butterflies and hummingbird moths for as long as they last, for even in their lessening numbers and decreasing daily appearances, they provide unlimited fascination and satisfaction.



[1] 1 Corinthians 13.2

2 thoughts on “illimitable limitations: 3 philosophical ponderings on human mortality

  1. This post is so thought-provoking Paul!! Years ago all I thought about was my mortality and all I’d be missing if I succumbed to my illness. Then I got well and rarely thought about being mortal again. Until recently…

    You are absolutely a thinker in a body! I learned a lot from you over the years about how you think and process! It’s really something to behold! I sure haven’t seen the limits of your intellect!!

    I thought a great deal about all the wants of the body that you so eloquently described. We all want more of everything…I wonder if we want more because we are mortal and there’s just a limited time that we have to enjoy all the things we want??

    Love the reflection and your honesty. Keep watching the butterflies!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I wonder if we want more because we are mortal and there’s just a limited time that we have to enjoy all the things we want??”

      Always, Loretta, your comments spur other thoughts and stir up new paths of consideration. For in one’s awareness of the limitations of mortality, yes, I think, one’s desires, one’s NEEDS to achieve those ends – almost by necessity – would heighten. I think this – the heightening, deepening, broadening of desire, need for fulfillment – is magnified when one believes s/he has made a mistake in life or discerns a path not taken that s/he wishes s/he had chosen.

      As I wrote, I will AND must think about this more.

      As for “watching the butterflies”, yes, I take that as encouragement for striving to be in the moment and not dreamily looking to a long gone past or gazing expectantly to an unknown, indeed, impossible to know future.

      Liked by 1 person

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