In Praise of ‘I Can’t’

For the next few weeks, I can’t do more than I can. It’s not something I like to admit to myself. 

I can’t drive. I can’t stand for long. All my chairs require pillows. I need sleep. I need to eat more. I am a version of a baby. In need of slowness and gentleness, from others, and mostly from myself. 

The baby lays on my chest and I can barely feel his breathing. I have to stop my thoughts to check in with him. Is he alive? He is, but his slow and quiet ways force me to adopt the same. Grow slow and quiet. I have no choice. 

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I am not good at being gentle with myself. I am compulsive. I am harsh. I have high standards. No, impossible standards. I want to do more, be more. 

But for now, I can’t. I am not independent. I cannot lift more than 20 pounds. I cannot workout or stay up late. My strongest act to date, bringing human life into the world, rendered me helpless in many ways. 

Yet all the Cannots are good for me. They have become the walls around a sacred place where I can only do the few little things that matter. 

And so I make peace with my smallness. I let myself sink into the moment because there is truly nothing else to be done. 

They’re like magic, slowness and smallness are. I see all the things I’ve been missing. I can’t help but notice the baby’s tiny fingernails, his exquisitely soft head, his smiles and grimaces.

He charms me. I enjoy him. 

Because I can’t do anything else.

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