Solitude, silence and fasting. Embracing the three most essential spiritual disciplines opens us to the deepest kind of risk: the risk of discovering who we really are, in all our flaws and confusion. Solitude forces us to step away from the continual affirmation of our authority by others; silence compels us to practice quietness rather than noisy self-assertion; fasting exposes our dependence on food and other good things to prop up our sense of agency and capacity. 

All of them, practiced regularly, will humble us, bringing us up against our own limits and our own foolishness. Without solitude, silence and fasting, we have no true authority -we are captives of others’ approval, addicted to our personal soundtracks and chained to our pleasures. But on the other side of this vulnerability is true authority, grounded in something deeper than our circumstances.
—  Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak
I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.
—  Sylvia Plath

“You know, there is such a fine line between wisdom and cunning,” Salazar offered quietly, his gaze slipping over the line of her neck. “Don’t you think?”

“Careful,” Rowena warned, eyeing him. “A wise man abides by his limits.”

He took a step closer, watching her breath catch in her throat.

“Perhaps I’m not a wise man,” Salazar offered slyly, “nor a limited one—”

“Pity,” Rowena remarked, her lips twisting into a venomous half-smile. “You’re not a brave one, either,” she murmured, her gaze pointedly sweeping his face before she turned to exit the room, “so I doubt I have to worry much.”


Ask Ethan: Why is there a limit to what physics can predict?

“Why are there these units (Planck units) which you can’t further divide?”

There are fundamental limits to the Universe, in the sense that there are scales where our laws of physics break down. You can’t break matter or energy up into infinitely small pieces, and the same goes – we think – for space and time. But is that necessarily all true, and is that what the Planck scale means? Not quite. Rather, these are scales at which our laws of physics stop giving reliable predictions, as we make these mass, energy, length and time scales out of three constants fundamental to our physical theories: the gravitational constant, the speed of light and Planck’s constant. They do have strong physical implications, but they don’t necessarily mean these scales can’t be divisible further. After all, every particle in existence has a mass far below the Planck mass!

What are the limits to the Universe, and how are they related to Planck units? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!