“One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact.” (Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson)
I couldn’t tell you how many times in 1981 you would have found my buddies and I belting out these familiar words from my favorite Rush song; ‘Limelight’. Neil Peart told stories with his songs, the messages of which still ring true today, imparting valuable information.
Years ago when I first heard Andy Stanley speak about the importance of establishing borders in the various categories of one’s life to serve as guardrails, those long ago lyrics came to mind (yep, that’s the way the universe works- watch for it). While each of them may have been referring to different categories in which to apply barriers, they were both advising the same principle: protect your integrity by installing limits. It’s a formula so basic, you’d think that all of us would have grasped it long ago. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who did. Only in my fervent effort to develop the seed of self-control that lives within me, and each of us, into a full-grown established and invincible muscle (it helps me to think of it as a muscle- I have a mind that requires a good analogy or parable to fuel my comprehension and retention level) did I learn that not only was I failing to establish borders in my life, I was not even aware of my failure to instill limits, or if I was aware of it, clearly I was not now, nor had I ever been, strict about adhering to them. I had a bad habit of listening to my flesh and living in the moment while seeing where it carried me. Andy Stanley would say I was living on the edge. And just as he says: “As we all know, if you live on the edge, it’s just one tiny mistake and it’s a disaster.” Um, yep. Disaster. I’ve been there. I don’t wish to return. But wishing doesn’t cut it. Just like building and maintaining any muscle, it requires effort and vigilance. Though it’s my natural tendency to crave that which is high intensity and teetering on the very edge- so much so that I actually started breathing a little harder and getting flushed and excited just typing those words in- that’s not all there is to me. And I’ve been made aware that I’ll never be as empowered as I’m meant to be if I don’t take control of those impulses and harness them in a way in which their power can be most constructively utilized. That rings true for each of us. What doesn’t come naturally must be worked on. That’s going to mean some barriers; a guardrail or two which we may bump against, then recover from when we get too close to the edge, rather than the one-way trip to the bottom of an abyss that flying by the seat of our pants may land us in. Yes, intensity is a rush. But I’ve decided to keep myself intact. As it turns out, any good challenge carries a rush of its own.