I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately about various technology stories and people who have achieved success that few ever see. These stories fascinate me in part because of the technology, and also because of the personality traits that allowed them to see something everyone else missed.
That got me to thinking about what is actually possible. Part of our growing up process is learning about the constraints and limitations found in every aspect of our life and our interaction with the world. I see it more than ever as I watch Simon develop. He is learning that a block can only fit into a shape sorter a certain way. It's a constraint that is obvious to an adult, but one you have to test and understand when you're a toddler.
This process continues the rest of our lives. The epiphany that I've recently had is that there are actually two kinds of constraints: physical and perceived. Not being able to put the square block in the round hole is a physical and very real constraint. It can't reasonably be overcome. It's the perceived constraints that we too easily accept as immovable objects. I would say that life experience dulls our distinction between constraints that are quite real, and those that are established some other way that is not real.
For example, I believed that one of my constraints in life was living in Cleveland. My experiences dictated that it was just a fact of life that I couldn't change. Heck, it was even a contributing factor to the eventual demise of my first marriage. Today, it's completely obvious that I can live where ever I want.
I see people believe all of the time that they can't get a certain job or break into a particular field, all because of the constraints that are established both by their own minds and also by the dogma provided by others. The biggest constraints are not real.
With each passing year of life experience, I'm starting to learn that the value in questioning authority isn't about sticking it to The Man or proving that you're right. The value comes from breaking down constraints that limit your vision of what's possible.
Constraints, real or imagined, force you to be creative, but it's annoying to realize that the imagined constraints often prevent you from getting started.