Posted by: Louise | April 7, 2011

negative capacity

One thing that may happen if you spend a long time looking is that you may learn nothing, or at least nothing you can put clearly in words. Patient looking is not usually a puzzle-solving activity: you don’t “solve” a sunset or a painting. Looking, after all, is not reading. The poet Keats had a wonderful expression for this state of mind: he called it negative capability: the capacity “of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”
James Elkins – Ice halos in the sky

I didn’t know it would feel like this. My head is swimming. It hurts, it is thinking so hard. I feel lost. I have a different analogy everyday – constipated (gross, but accurate). I’ve been avoiding the inevitable one – labour, giving birth. I passed the transition stage early last week. Now, not only does it feel like I am actively pushing, groaning, straining with every ounce of my strength, but I have been fitted into a wetsuit. Straining and constrained.

Today’s analogy, probably helped by the reprieve from effort the above quote offered is more floaty. It’s like my thoughts are a sheet caught up in the wind, floating skyward, and I have to find some string and fix it to the corners to try and pull it back down – to land it. I told K this and he said I was probably discovering that the sheet didn’t have corners….

So I am sitting here strangled in thesis, unable to see woods for trees, deadline “oh so very close” and the obvious hits me, the really bleeding obvious. Two years ago I was busy completing my final assignments (all except the thesis, that is). The weather was brightening. I was up there at the top of the house, at my desk, disconnecting myself from family, disconnecting myself from the day-to-day, focused on the end of studying, focused on the last few weeks of my pregnancy, anticipating those weeks filled with trashy magazines and relaxing, grounding myself back into my life with my daughter growing away inside me.

And then I finished my last assignment and thought – all I need now is to feel Laura kick.

And I didn’t.

Ever again.

And I’m in that space now and it hits me – I’m not ready to give birth.

I remember when I was pregnant with the Giraffe Princess and I couldn’t conceive of there being a baby at the end of it. No reason. Just our first and it all seemed so improbable. I was driving along one day – daydreaming – and I pictured a nurse handing me this baby and I looked at her and asked the nurse – Can I keep her?!

Can I keep her?

Laura & Mum

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Responses

  1. “One thing that may happen if you spend a long time looking is that you may learn nothing, or at least nothing you can put clearly in words. Patient looking is not usually a puzzle-solving activity: you don’t “solve” a sunset or a painting. Looking, after all, is not reading. The poet Keats had a wonderful expression for this state of mind: he called it negative capability: the capacity “of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

    Your quote is the only thing I can “put in words” to describe what I feel looking at the picture of you and Laura. That, and some kind of nameless, wordless, aching resistance against Laura’s death. I do not want her to die. I want her to live. I want you to have her and hold her and know her and not have to miss her.

    I can’t help crying. And what you feel – every day – is so much deeper than crying.

    I am so sad that your daughter died.

    And I marvel at how much her life matters and how much your life matters, and how I would never have known about either of you if she hadn’t died. It is all wrong.

    Thank you for sharing her,

    Cathy in Missouri

  2. Every time I read those words of yours… about waiting to feel her kick.. it makes my heart ache. Knowing the rest of the story is not something that comes without a heavy heart. I am so sorry that life is os different now Louise.. I wish there were a way for all of us to get just once chance, one moment go back to.. and to change everything in the blink of an eye.


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