Since the end of October, the 27th at 1:00am, my daddy (I’m Texan and that makes him a daddy, not a dad) has been in the hospital. And my family and I have run the gamut of emotions while caring for him and tending to his needs beyond what hospital staff can do or are doing because of overwork and poor communication. Fear, worry, sadness, hope, joy, relief, and anger are all a part of that. And stillness too. At least that’s where this is taking me; to that still quiet place of introspection that has long been the safe harbor in which I moor my tiny ship when seas are rough to make sure I’m navigating in a way that brings the most peace, health, effectiveness and joy. Sometimes seas need more harbors. And sometimes the absence of safety for a time teaches the ability to choose calm and continuation.
And then another harbor comes in time. It was in this last respite, one desperately clung to when I had reached my seeming end of coping with all the demands placed upon me by my heart wanting to care for Daddy, my work requiring my physical presence for income creation, and my social community in which I submerge myself for joy and comfort with friends and family that I found a new thought emerging. A still, small utterance within me . . . whispering a special story just for me; my truth regarding this experience:
Does the feeling “I can’t take much more of this” really define a limit? What does it really mean to feel oneself at the edge of capacity?
I was engulfed by the emotion, the awareness that I was dwelling on the edges of my capacity to continue in reasonable form; eating, drinking, sleeping, bathing, dressing, working, being present with the tragedy that was rising and filling all the spaces between the cells of my existence. It’s scary emotionally because you feel on the brink of collapse. It’s frightening physically because you get in touch with the primal drive toward survival that moves us forward in ways both egocentric and communal. When they are at odds, the psychological stress grows more intense.
So feeling that going on is not an option is an interesting experience when viewed from the back side. Once the stress dissipates – food is eaten along with the luxury of actually tasting it; sweet sleep restores the body and rested the spirit; space returns between the cells to breathe in and breathe out absent of the fight-or-flight response – that moment of knowing, really knowing, that continuing was simply not an option when recalled seems misunderstood.
That moment was not the end of capacity, though it seemed critically necessary to acknowledge it as such at the time. I have gone on, and I will continue. The limit that loomed like an executioner with axe was not truly the edge. It was the limit of capacity to function within the selected criteria (this much food, sleep, work, etc.), but not the limit to function in some way. That was found. And is found in moments of crisis. The “I can’t take much more of this” feeling is signpost marking the entrance to the land beyond the idea of what is necessary for sustaining the self. Beyond that border is continuation in another form. Or death.
I find it interesting how intensely the over-burdened central nervous system indicates that the border is the actual finish line; the end. It amazes me how perfectly attuned we are to our own survival and to how the survival of a communal member affects our own, creating a willingness to go beyond our borders to sustain one another; to walk up to that edge and squeeze just a few more feet or inches into the distance to our own decline.
I think that’s the critical piece. Part of what we call love. And part of that deep river of innate knowledge that in helping one another continue, we continue ourselves. The limits of life are held collectively within the cells and souls of each person.