I am still trying to break through the facade of nobility around being exhausted. It is a flaw in me right now. Busy is fine, that is the imperfection version of this, but exhausted leads to blackness. I spent three of the last four days “off” doing chores – inside the house, errands outside the house, things I’ve wanted to get done for the 30/29 working month of July (and no, that does not mean bonus marks). Yesterday afternoon I sat, thinking I could do so without the demons running through my skull, shaming me, yelling at me, telling me I will put on weight for doing something that my body needs. I was so very wrong. I collapsed; I didn’t rest. I collapsed both mentally and physically and I’m not better for it, because my head, my soul took a beating. It was a struggle to rest, but does it have to be this way? What if I had taken the four days and spread the chores among them? Or what if I prioritized resting above snaking the toilet or cleaning the floors, either of which could have waited a week?
I am spending today helping friends move, exhausted. I will spend much of next week helping my grandparents prepare their basement for moving, exhausted. There is an opportunity afterwards: five days. Five days that I could use to prioritize rest.
As we have seen, I cannot fully rest without being at least a little busy, it is not good for me personally, for the now version of me. Right now, I can no longer sit and veg in front of the TV for a day, watching movie after movie or reading book after book (maybe someday, if this is my nature, my trueness). Forcing myself to be someone I am not, even if that is just the version of me (in the present stage of recovery), that is giving the blackness strength. I have already written about the Tao of Pooh‘s caution of fighting against one’s nature. Benjamin Hoff also writes about this in reference to people trying (or being forced to try) to be someone they are not:
- “Let’s start with the first part: ‘A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.’ Very simple. … And yet, you’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. We will let a selection from the writings of Chuang-tse illustrate: Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, ‘I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same – useless, without value. … [Chuang-tse replied,] a huge yak is not easily caught or overcome. It stands like a stone, or a cloud in the sky. But for all its strength, it cannot catch a mouse. You complain that your tree is not valuable, as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. … It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.’ In other words, everything has its own place and function” (39-40).
- “‘A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.’ … There’s nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you’re a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren’t designed for. Fish don’t live in trees, and birds don’t spend too much time underwater if they can help it. Unfortunately, some people – who always seem to think they’re smarter than fish and birds, somehow – aren’t so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others” (43).
- “That doesn’t mean that we need to stop changing and improving. It just means that we need to recognize What’s There” (43).
I like being busy and being useful, but I cannot do either of those things if I am lying to my Mom and friends about how exhausted I am, grinning and bearing it. There is no nobility in letting people down, and just because I’ve been able to do it up to this point, I have also seen that doing so strips pieces of my soul away, causes me to regress into the blackness. Perhaps experimentation is needed…
What if I used these five days to break through the nobility of exhaustion? What if I did prioritize resting on the “to do” list? The old way isn’t working, so we must find a new one. This is a bad habit, one which we must recover from to survive the oncoming: two jobs in September, working weekends and weekdays and the days in between; starting my Masters at the same time; going back to a frosty work environment.
This is our time to find a new way, perhaps a way that works best for the me version of me. So during this experiment, I limit myself to two things per day out of an active (running, biking, working out), an outdoor chore (groceries), a house chore (mowing the lawn, vacuuming, laundry). The rest of the day must prioritize rest and see if this drives me nuts. Five days, that’s all. I was able to stop portion counting (ok, still eating flawed and I am having a hard time being back at home and listening to my nature, but to stop counting was a giant step). I and my support system (I will need them to “pick up the slack,” to be kind and patient with my discomfort and to be loving) are strong enough to do this. We are wise enough to know that this is doable, one day at a time. The blackness shouldn’t be too bad, should it…?