our reach and our grasp

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

Robert Browning

Bob has identified both our “try” and our “fail.”  So we invent.  We invent ladders.  Ladders extend our height.  We invent telescopes and microscopes.  These extend our sight.  We invent blogs.  These extend our ability to bore a wider range of people.  You get the analogy.

The things we use to extend our reach do not come without a cost.  Our ladders allow us to change a light bulb that we had no shot at reaching.  However, ladders are dangerous and while you are using them you cannot expect freedom to move about the room.  Telescopes and microscopes extend our visual range in a narrow field of view.  But, if one is stargazing or watching the amoeba races, one has given up his peripheral vision and cannot see his idiot friend sneaking up to administer the “wedgy.”  The blog lets me edit my thoughts and present a polished version of them to the cyberspace allowing a crafted message, but no body language, vocal tone changes, or eye contact with the reader.  So goes the tradeoff.  The broad and safe vs. the narrow and risky.

Technology, logic, and the scientific method all allow us to extend our limited powers.  I meet people who can tell you exactly how to build a website but couldn’t trace the development of the concept of “justice” to save their lives.  Some can remove your tumor but have no clue if the auto mechanic should remove their transmission.  Others have been to Paris, but have never been fishin’.  Much of this is inevitable and I do not wish to denounce our valuable specialists.  It’s just that our current system seems to be geared to turn out “gears.”  People who fit into the machinery of the economy so we can do more and have more.  Are these people wise, virtuous, happy people?  More so than in the past?  Are the poets and philosophers valued as treasures or tolerated as curiosities?  Does the question: “what is a good person?” any longer have a meaning?

So the things that we use to extend our reach are a trade-off (or worse) if they don’t provide more benefit than they consume.  This is the old definition of “investment.”  Thankfully, there are many ways to do this that produce a net gain: Being patient with a child, learning an instrument, getting pre-marital counseling, reading a good book, etc…

Mr. Browning is right in suggesting Heaven is the satisfaction of our “grasp.”  It comes from the only real extension to our reach that will deliver on all promises.

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Col. 3:3-4

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One Response to our reach and our grasp

  1. Cary Chandler says:

    Thoughtful analysis on learning and human capacity. In a varied career where I have had to “specialize” in a wide range of areas at different times, I also find that my brain capacity does not allow for retention of all information gathered. So, I have to “forget” some things to learn new things. Limitations. The only alternative is to be a mile wide, but an inch deep.

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