The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.

clown fish

Clown fish in his element

“A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.” Coming from a wise mind, such a statement would mean, “I have certain limitations, and I know what they are.” Such a mind would act accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you’re a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren’t designed for. Fish don’t live in trees, and birds don’t spend too much time underwater if they can help it. Unfortunately, some people – who always seem to think they’re smarter than fish and birds, somehow, – aren’t so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others.

That doesn’t mean that we need to stop changing and improving. It just means that we need to recognize What’s There. If you face the fact that you have weak muscles, say, then you can do the right things and eventually become strong. But if you ignore What’s There and try to lift someone’s car out of a ditch, what sort of conditions will you be in after a while? And even if you have more muscle than anyone alive, you still can’t push over a freight train. The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.

from The Tao of Pooh, Cottleston Pie
by Benjamin Hoff (1946 – )

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