Are We There Yet: Beating Exhaustion at It’s Own Game

My forehead is sporting a pale raspberry sheen. I spent a good 2 hours exploring the local nature reserve over here in Middle-of-Nowhere, Pennsylvania and found a few un-mapped trails.

I haven’t gone exploring like that since I was a young warthog. The thrill of adventure fueled a passive yet saturating energy that soaked into my skin and bones. I ventured past fallen trees out of which which grew large, flat-topped mushrooms and fresh grPo3tryeen sprouts (like something out of a fairy-tale). I crawled beneath dense foliage, drawn in by the hint of what might have been an old piece of trail overtaken by an abundance of plant-life.

The red patches of burn scattered across my body and the close encounter with a massive thorn-riddled amateur-trap were completely worth it. There is nothing quite like an adventure.

IMG_0969
A pretty little tree stump from the local nature preserve

Maybe, though, a journey can become burdensome when carried out for too long, until it remains as nothing more than a thorn in the side.

I’m tired.

I’m pulling a seven day work-week, and that’s not why. I’m just tired.

Rough patches happen. Exhaustion falls upon the best and worst of us. We are a toiling species, chasing after the wind and laboring beneath the sun. I’m a perfectionist. I strategize everything and carry out the most minute details exactly as planned. It gets old, let me tell you, being foolproof. But I’ve learned in my short amount of years in this life that it is inadvisable to ever count on anything being easy.

My father used to tell me: Plan for the worst. Expect the best.

I don’t remember if he was actually the one to tell me that or if I heard it from a grade-school teacher sharing her opinion on the way doctors think.

Yesterday, I talked about “knowing thyself,” and mentioned that I know my triggers that tell me to take a nap or eat some food before I end up ripping off someone’s face. Irritability is a commonly occurring warning notification for me. I promise I’m not a mean person, but I suppose that could depend on who you ask. I wasn’t always as perfect as I am now (just kidding… kind of).

Anywho… the point is I’m irritable. Like, right now. It’s a special kind of irritable that tells me I need a day off. It all began when I woke up this morning.

I slept in, first of all. I was waking up at 6 a.m. for a while and taking small afternoon naps everyday. It was quite the system. Recently I’ve been waking up later and later. I reasoned with myself that anywhere between 6:15 and 7:00 a.m. is free game. I woke up at 7:30, which isn’t a problem. The problem was the immediate onset of apathy for being awake and the burning desire ever since to go back to bed and shut out the world for the rest of the day and be lazy. Netflix and napping all day until work in the evening would be nice.

Even as I type this word and that word and this word again I couldn’t care less. It’s all part of the waking up process; nothing to worry about. It’s just been more difficult lately to get through the waking up process.

Sorry, I dozed off….

Following close to the heels of my Eeyore-style apathy comes my signature irritability trotting along like it owns the places.

Fuck these stairs. Why are there always so many? Why is everything so far away? Where’s my breakfast? I hate these fucking stairs this is bullshit.

I know, right.

What’s my point?

Yeah get to the point, already. You always talk so much. Nobody gives a shit. Get on with it already for Christ’s sake.

Last night after leaving my second job at 11:30 p.m. (It was a long, but rewarding, day), I had a little chat with a newer friend of mine who’s been going through a confusing time in the realm of romance. I’m completely supportive of the match. I think she and her knew interest would make a fabulous pair, the item of the decade to be sure. But she, like me in matters of the heart, worries too much; worries about who drives where and who texts who first and who pays for what and how it all makes her look.

There comes a point, in most and many things, where the adventure fades and the journey becomes a game of management. I once lived in Texas where I had a friend, Katerina. She had this metaphor: building sandcastles. Building sandcastles is basically being at the beginning of something and finding yourself planning out or envisioning every little detail of the future. You’re building castles, but alas castles built of nothing more than sand.

Here’s the problem with building sandcastles: Those walls can’t be lived in.

Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do! I can live anywhere!

Wait till it rains.

Now I strongly advise setting goals, holding a vision in front of you to guide your feet and supply motivation when the road is no longer level and smooth. But there comes a point where too much building changes the focusing from loving something to loving the idea of something, and in turn the goal subtly changes from the attainment of something to living within that idea, that phantasm of what you could have.

Go with me here for a moment: I think that when we become overworked, having pushed ourselves past our limits (admirably so) and not given ourselves time to rest and enjoy our progress (foolishly so), that is when exhaustion sets in. Keep following me: In order to inspire the self to continue working through exhaustion, more motivation is needed, but the same old image gets old after a while – and maybe some of us become a little (or a lot) apathetic toward our vision.

More. We need more.

So we build a little more onto that vision; we add a little more detail. We continue working. We tire out, but we must keep going. There’s no time to stop. There’s something to be won here! Add more detail. Oh this is going to be wonderful! Labor, tire, detail! Labor, tire detail! More! Labor, tire, detail! More! More! More!

And then we break. We’re all more-ed out. And everything goes to shit.

Don’t take my word for it. I’m just a guy with a lot of experience in failure.

 

So, back to that point I promised I was getting to.

There’s a difference between a journey of effort and the kind of adventure you can still have in your twenties exploring in nature. Such is life. I like to think our goals are just our imaginations all grown up. Playing in the woods is the same as living life. There’s effort, but there’s also enjoyment. Navigating the underbrush while avoiding aggressive thorn-vines is effort. Enjoying what you’ve just discovered and knowing you came out unscathed is enjoyment. Putting in the work that requires discipline is effort. Stopping to enjoy how far you’ve come and realize you have that less far to travel until you reach your goal is enjoyment.

And leave the details to life. Be willing to be surprised. Some of the best things come to us by accident rather than our own design.

The invention of the potato chip. Case and point.

This concept is universal. It applies to romance, goals, education, hobbies, what have you. Remember to love the real thing and don’t settle for the idea of it. Remember to stop and enjoy your little accomplishments because a mountain is made of many stones and each one is to be appreciated for its contribution. And remember to take a break. You’re not a machine. You’re a human. Don’t lose all your progress because you couldn’t take time to enjoy it in increments and catch your breath.

Keep moving forward, but be willing to stop and smell the roses every now and then.

Oh, and when you have tuckered yourself out because you didn’t take my advice and you find yourself feeling inadequate and ruminating on all the reasons why you won’t win, my girl Taylor’s got that answer for you.

 

Journey

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