Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Chemistry Review

Last semester, and even now as I gear up to begin semester two, I battle with being overwhelmed. My mind is often just full of the week. I sit down at my desk or on the couch with a book and my brain swarms with bits and pieces of info about the various things I am studying:  ethics,  church history, government policy, urban planning, how congregations live and serve and grow together. And then there are the theories. And the names. Add the -ologies. This is just school. Then there is an internship. Two part time jobs. There is a new city that I have not gotten to know. I still feel like a visitor here - waiting to go home. I am not settled into this town yet and the knowledge that I should engage is another piece of activity firing through the synapses of my brain with reminders to find a church, join a community group, explore the history of Philadelphia.  

I am tense and there were weeks where I feel constantly on the verge of tears. It isn't exhaustion. It is not even stress per se in the way that stress usually induces tears. It is just so much. My brain feels saturated

There are two words I most remember from high school chemistry: precipitate and meniscus. Those lessons stand out vividly in my mind. I remember leaning down to get eye level with a solution in a test tube - measuring the height to which the curve of the meniscus came. Some solutions gave a concave cure, others a convex. It was always the latter that fascinated me, especially when a test tube was filled to the top one-drop-at-a-time, the liquid actually extending above the glass walls, arching up and holding itself in place by sheer physics.

The precipitation level is the point at which a solution is so saturated with the added substance that it can hold no more. Excess sugar falls like rain from a heavy sucrose mixture that has reached its limit. Things can only be pushed so far. 

My brain often feels it is there, the meniscus bubble is curved and arching just over the edge, teetering precariously. One more drop will simultaneously overflow the basin and send the sugar raining out. When I'm thinking about my level of overwhelmedness: this teetering on the brink of precipitation feels cataclysmic. (And please know that I am still a big fan of self-care and rest and not being impossibly tough on yourself.)  But when I picture those science experiments, I am reminded that it was always more interesting, more noteworthy, when you reached past the limit. 

This year as I contemplate enough (and, more-than-enough and other related terms) I keep picturing those experiments. Experiments that tested the limits of science and what test tubes and water could hold. More-than-enough was always overflow. Less-than-enough was never very spectacular. And, somehow, you never knew which point was enough until the spillover happened. Until it rained or splashed over. Write down the drop before that one. That is full, add more to overflow.

No comments:

Post a Comment