Life has no limitations, except the ones you make

I came across two TED talks this morning that really embodied for me this idea that the biggest limitations that we face are the ones that we impose on ourselves. Although most TED talks contain an insightful story, these two in particular really capture something about the human spirit.

The first talk was a performance by pianist Derek Paravicini, with commentary by his long-standing music teacher Adam Ockelford. Derek has an incredibly intuitive understanding of music, despite growing up blind and with severe autism. This talk really struck me because it touched on the ability of individuals to express themselves through creating music and also the pivotal role that the people – the parents, caregivers and teachers – play in nurturing talent and potential.

As someone who once aspired to be a professional pianist and composer, and who has taught a number of students with learning disabilities (including autism), it is very inspiring to see human potential come to life in his performances.

The second talk is by a woman, Eleanor Longden, who describes her struggles with schizophrenia and journey through the psychiatric system while she was in her late teens and early 20s. What I really took from her talk was the need to have a humane approach to mental illness and to see her experience “not as an abstract symptom of illness to be endured, but as complex, significant, and meaningful experience to be explored.”

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