Opinion Wellbeing and Family

Limitation is a Mother

Limitation comes in several and sundry forms these days. For the vast majority of us, it comes in self-, entity-, or state-restricted movement. We are home. To work. To eat. To play. To school. For very many of us, limitation has also visited in the form of unexpected unemployment. Followed by limitations in unemployment office bandwidth and applications for new jobs. For too many, limitation has worn a mourning veil or a mask of frustration or a shroud of desperation.

Limitation is a mother.

She brings change, sometimes unwelcome. She bears us out of comfort into extremes. She does the hard thing, the demanding thing, the wholly unfair thing. She unites us, if only against her. And she bears the brunt of all our angst.

Limitation is a mother.

She brings forth creativity. A kind of sprawling, infinite sea of change in contracted, finite acts. Designing masks. Rethinking triage. Tending the dead.

But also teaching the alphabet. And virtually dissecting a frog and meeting in 6-foot gaps. In celebrating with mini parades. Baking a loaf of bread. Starting a garden. In looking up a local food producer. And in connecting. In writing or painting or singing. In telemedicine and appointment-only everything.

Limitation breeds creativity. Phil Brookman said that. What has limitation bred before you?

I have been fortunate to escape Covid-19 to date, to survive coronavirus unemployment, to gain employment, and to enjoy coaching my kids through distance learning.

My time is more restricted than it’s been in years. Limitation. And I am more prolific than maybe ever. There’s something about constrictions that compels expansion. That drives you to the corners of the day, the 15 minutes here and 5 minutes there, to be and become. To create. To push back against limitation. And love it.


Sea Change

In this tumultuous sea we all share, the coming changes will be exacting and excruciating. As the wave crests and threatens to throw us overboard, we may despair. Together. As the wave’s trough eventually comes, we will, on mutual exhaustion, find reprieve. Together.

Except. Except the ones lost along the wave. Of which there are already too many. We have so very much to do.

Meanwhile, my husband’s job layoff meant I job searched. And I found something that also found me. I begin April 20. To say I’m awash in emotion is understated. Grateful. Hopeful. Anxious. Resigned and resolved. That names a fair few emotions that stew and bubble amidst this pandemic and economic crisis.

Working at a job, as opposed to writing and making art, represents a sea change in our household. I seek accommodation for my constraints. That feels absolutely key. School is out and husband is home and every adaptation I’ve built feels poised on a fault line.

In times of tremendous change, I seek something real and solid to hold. Here, that’s preparation. Renewing our disaster plan to consider pandemics. Executing our will – we had a will-signing party on the front lawn, complete with six-foot distancing, hand sanitizer, and cleaned pens before and after. Shoring up legal documents and organizing them.

It is an illusion. I am prepared not at all. Not for death of loved ones. Not for suffering. Certainly not for a pandemic stretching out indefinitely.

I must exit preparation and enter some new phase. Maybe creation. Maybe making can be the solid thing on which I stand. On Sunday, the preacher said that limitations breed creativity. If that’s true, we’ve all got creativity to spare. Imagine what we could do. Not as illusion but concrete, tangible even in intangible ways.

Between crest and trough, create. Hold onto the real. Stay well to the very extent you can. From excruciation through exhaustion and upon the following wave, be and do and make.

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