Lance Armstrong’s taped confession to Oprah scheduled to be aired this Thursday, January 17, 2013, brings to mind the concept and message underlying the 2011 movie, “Limitless“. In the movie, a writer, Eddie Morra, suffering from writer’s block discovers an experimental pharmaceutical, NZT, which enables him to access the underutilized 70-80% of his brain.
Suddenly he can recall everything he’s experienced or read in life, read financials and predict a stock’s performance, charm women, write the Great American Novel, and learn a new language in a day without Berlitz or Rosetta Stone. Eddie has become all he hoped to be and then some. He’s popular, rich, courted by the beautiful and powerful — he has arrived.
Course there are some downsides to his success and drug usage. Unsavory characters want his stash of the drug, a greedy Wall Street tycoon seeks to profit from his financial acumen, and his body is ravaged by the drug’s side effects. Even with the known negatives, Eddie finds the surpassing of normal human mental limitations appealing enough to continue taking the drug.
In a similar vein, Lance Armstrong’s 7 Tour de France wins after battling and beating testicular cancer surpassed normal human physical limitations. In years past, I completed a century ride of 100 miles in a day, and could not imagine the endurance and strength needed to cycle through the mountains and plains of France riding 100 or so miles daily for nearly 21 days. That anyone can win one Tour de France is an amazing feat; winning seven is phenomenal; winning seven after cancer treatment is a superhuman feat. A superhuman feat now acknowledged to be accomplished by the usage of pharmaceuticals.
The feats of the fictional Eddie Morra and the real-life Lance Armstrong highlight the innate human desire to surpass or bypass limits. Much of sport and entertainment revolves around people who have broken the limits, set new records, or turned in the best performance of their life. Much of reality TV pokes fun at people who have limits and can’t surpass them. Let’s fact it, we humans don’t like having limits – even if it’s only one.
The Garden of Eden was a wonderful, stupendous, magical place to live where God walked and talked regularly with the human dwellers. The food supply was amble, the work load manageable and pleasurable; and the co-worker beautiful and naked. How much better could life get?
Well, Adam and Eve thought it would be better if there weren’t any limits. God had given them one limit in Genesis 2:16-17 – don’t eat from one tree. One tree; one dietary restriction, and they weren’t happy. Eddie Morra took NZT, Lance took PED’s, and Eve swallowed the serpent’s lie (Genesis 3:6-7). All three wanted to surpass their natural or imposed limits, and all three suffered for their choices.
Whether it’s speed limits, the number of items I can take in a dressing room, or the weight of my checked luggage, I don’t like limits. But I recognize it was God who instituted a limit before the fall, and limits have their place. I don’t like how long it takes me to learn a new skill, a new language or a new dance step; I don’t like limits. But I recognize God is calling me to acknowledge the limits of my humanity and accept these limits as a good thing. After all, God created me that way, he created Adam and Eve that way and declared his creation to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
I’m sure I’ll continue to celebrate the achievements of the Usain Bolts and Michael Phelps of the world and hope they aren’t using. But if they are, I’ll recognize our common humanity and desire to beat the limits.