Someone asked me yesterday how I was doing and without even thinking I replied, “I am right on the very edge of my capacity.” I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, as if I just might crack, the way dried ponds do, or frozen roads.  Or perhaps even better, the way silly putty does when it gets pulled just the right way. Snap.  Broken silly.

But then I took a breath. And another.

I looked beyond my own lists, messes, and screw-up along the way. My eyes followed the river; yes the one that runs through here, the one that keeps on running all the way to the sea. That river connects me to the Pacific, the ocean of my heart.

And it is there that I see what capacity really is. It is in a wave washing away a child, home, towns. It is in a mess left behind that is one broken heart standing next to another. From my little vantage on a mountain, so very high above the sea, I know that the earth shook us all. This world quakes us every day, as the plates move, as plans change, as we bump our way through, pinging off of each other until we are little more than rivers, waves of people. We flow. We ebb. And sometimes, we crash.

I focus my depth of field back in and see every hair on my son’s heads. I see how much they are growing. They are getting fuzz on their arms, muscles, and worries of their own. With the turning of the world, they will be men. And it is clear– I am actually nowhere near the edge. My heart is intact and I have such a long, long way to go to find the precipice of my capacity for pain and also joy.


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Bio: Elke Govertsen is the publisher of Mamalode which is a magazine and website for area moms. When not juggling her family, business, and the laundry (disclosure – there is no laundry being done whatsoever) Elke tries to eek out time to write, do yoga, and read like a fiend.