the curse of capability…

July 28, 2008

The ant…I understand this tiny being. It is said they can carry 10, 20 and even 50 times their own body weight. This makes them very remarkable. I’ve been at war with whole colonies in my kitchen lately and yet sometimes I just watch in awe. So many of them, working so hard, carrying so much. I can kind of relate.

It seems I have acquired, inherited, been gifted, whatever you want to call it, the curse of capability. I can carry and juggle quite a bit before I drop anything or things fall apart. Maybe it is some inner self value I’ve held on to, at the very least to try, give everything I have, keep carrying on. Withholding any bit of myself feels like withholding my love.

While this is usually a good thing and has served me well, in the wrong circumstances it can be disastrous. My vision of wants and needs gets all meshed together with both strangers and people I love. All I can see in every room is need, the kind that is as plain as the nose on your face and the tiny one hiding behind your heart. It all looks like need to me, it’s hard to distinguish want.

But when I find myself alone in a room with my own need, an awkward conversation ensues.

“Hey Need, how’s it goin’, I’m patience.” we shake hands and I shift in my seat nervously.

Need stares at me, we sit in silence….”Okay, I’m going to be heading out now, nice meeting you.”, while I make a beeline for the door.

I rarely ever see want, I’ve heard of her but she feels more like a rockstar that rolls into town ever so often, the concerts and hotel parties are amazing but feel indulgent.

I start to wonder about this part of myself as life unravels around me. I wonder just because I can do something, does it mean I should do it? I start to imagine what might happen if I put my load down for just a minute. I’m learning to allow space to find out. Maybe there are more ants like me, ones I haven’t even met yet. The kind that know when and how much to pick up and don’t carry a curse.

The interesting thing about curses is they only have power if you give it to them. They seem big and overwhelming but mostly they just like you to feed them. They die when the power is cut off and taken back.

So today I sit longer with Need and try to get to know her. I invite Want to come over and play, we eat brownie sundaes and lay around together. I tell the curse I have nothing to offer him today, he leaves in a huff and I return to watch the ants.

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7 Responses to “the curse of capability…”

  1. Kristin Says:

    A lovely post, Patience. Need & want are good friends to have around. Sounds like this pregnancy & baby has some precious lessons & gifts to offer, too.

  2. jen lemen Says:

    amen, sister. i’m right there with you.

  3. Ann Says:

    I had to put some loads down this past year. I’m still not totally comfortable that I dropped so much, but life is better. Now I have to figure out a different way to feel capable and sufficient. It’s not easy – a daily struggle – but I am just a bit closer to feeling peace. Thank you for this post.

  4. Amy Says:

    when you put some of those extraneous things down a wonderful thing happens…other people pick them up. sometimes it’s even your kids, or your husband…hallelujah.

    this is such a wonderful post and so cleverly written, a joy to read. I hope you and Need become better acquainted.

  5. Amy O C Says:

    What a beautiful duty you have been living!!! My sweet friend how you speak what I feel. Love you!!!

  6. Karen Says:

    This is a lovely post! Thank you. It brought to life a lot of needs and wants that I have long forgotten. I had this mental picture of a little ant at the spa, with a towel-wrapped head and pedicure in process. Really, just to be swept away by a good book, a hot chai, and an hour of peace and quiet would suffice. Small steps back to reality for me. Small steps.

  7. nyjlm Says:

    I have battled with capability’s cousin- responsibility. Learning to say no to some things this fall, for my own sanity. When we’re too busy being capable and responsible, we don’t have time or mental space to fulfill our wants and needs.


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