Originally published August 26, 2018
It’s funny all the kinds of tired you can experience as you get older.
When you were little, simple mental exhaustion was enough to warrant a nap in the middle of the school day. Kindergartening is TOUGH. All that stuff you need to remember — standing in a straight line, being quiet, sharing toys with classmates … the stress of wondering what to do when the fire alarm is sounded. (My anxiety runs deep, friends.)
And as you grew older, the days got longer and mental stress grew tougher. The physical energy requirement escalated as well. Now, those sadist gym teachers expected you to run a mile. All at once. I don’t seem to recall carbo loading being a “thing” when I was in middle and high school, but I sure could have benefitted from a bowl of pasta the night before gym class. In fact, I’m certain that’s why I didn’t excel in that area of my high school experience.
Now though, having moved through my 20s, 30s and 40s, I’ve discovered there are all kinds of tired.
There’s the straight up physical tired from exercise, trying to hang on to your 20s, 30s or 40s body when genetics and the clock are against you. I’ve been trying to plank every night for at least a minute or two, but if I assume the position right now, I just know I won’t get up from the floor.
And what about the “My God, the HEAT” kind of tired? Summer once was, and in many ways, still is my favorite season. Gardening, walking, running, going to the pool, day trips to the zoo, hiking on vacation, baseball games, going to the beach … all things that as you get older, and the sun and humidity suck the strength right out of you, you feel like you can say confidently, “Been there, done that. You go on without me. I’m fine here in the shade.” (I still have nothing but love for the grandma we encountered in Grand Tetons last summer who fended off all her kids’ and grandkids’ pleas to join them on the hike, blaming her tiredness for hanging back, only to see her later halfway up the trail blissfully reading a book by herself. Well played, Grandma.)
Parenting can produce a Defcon 1 kind of tired that only compatriots in raising kids can appreciate. From those early days, weeks and months of no sleep, midnight, 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. feedings and diapers, trips to the ER for croup and ear infections, to later nights when they are older, helping with homework, waiting up until 2 a.m. because they skipped curfew, suffering from emotional OCD as your synapses fire off one cataclysmic thought after another. “She’s not answering my texts. Is she OK? Was there a car accident? Is she at a party drinking?”
There’s the career/work tired, where you say to yourself, “I’ll ride the exercise bike when I get home — no problem” only to find yourself walking in the door at 5:30, and deciding fat assing it on the couch and eating a bowl of cereal for dinner may be all you can muster for the evening. While maybe (depending on the job) not the most physical thing you do, day in and day out, brain power requires energy. And if you’ve spent it all problem solving and producing, well … fat assing it is a go-to option:
And last but not least, the “I AM DONE WITH THE BULLSHIT” kind of tired. The emotional and intellectual energy spent on trying to wrap your brain around the ins and outs of daily life inside the current social/cultural/political Thunderdome we inhabit. The kind of tired where you think to yourself, and even say out loud, “I AM SO DONE WITH THE BULLSHIT” but it doesn’t matter because you’ll get up the next day knowing some kind of fresh hell is going to come at you and you just have to duck and keep on walking. I’ve been at it since the Monster-In-Chief mocked a disabled reporter. I am exhausted. Like, really, really exhausted.
And I worry about all of us, as we move through this time, which at the very least, we know can’t go past 2024 (I just threw up in my mouth even typing that, trust me). Where will we be then? Utterly divided as a nation? United behind a new leader? You think, “It can’t get worse” but then, Twitter.
Do we have the strength to make it that far?
I am tired. I am tired of waiting for a political leader worth his or her salt to grab the reins and present us with the ideal of a better place. I am hoping the midterms offer some hope that cooler, smarter and more empathetic leadership can prevail. Because this kind of tired layered on top of all those other kinds of tired is smothering, and we all need a breath of fresh air.
Today’s recommendation: Believer by David Axelrod, which gives me hope that there are other good men and women out there really wanting to make a difference and not a name.