“It does seem to me that at least some of us have made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we've done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love the most are the ones we see the least.”
Barbara Brown Taylor
My son and I looked at one another across the breakfast table yesterday morning, and each recognized exhaustion in the other. “We need to take a break,” I said. “Yes,” he agreed. Our family always goes full throttle until slamming into a wall. That wall is typically injury or illness. It's a crazy way to live, when you think about it. But taking time to rest is a problem when you're one of the millions of people who are only paid when you are working.
It's even more of a problem for people who feel like a “slacker” when they aren't working—who truly believe that they are indispensable to whatever work they do. Truth is, no one is indispensable. But that's the fear, isn't it? That others will recognize that we are truly non-essential—that someone else can adequately fill our shoes. So we toil away and feel exhaustion settle into our bones like an familiar roommate.
I sat down for an hour last night while waiting for a guest to arrive for dinner. It felt very strange to sit alone in my living room. I found myself making a mental list of all the things I want to do. Things that I never have time to do, because I'm always working, or because I am simply too tired to do one more thing. It was a long list. Idleness is not my strong-suit. “Doing” is my idol. I can't even sit for an hour without making a to-do-list.
I wonder about you. Are you better at simply “being” than I am. Do you know how to take regular breaks, to rest between activities. Can you allow yourself to be “idle and blessed” as Mary Oliver suggests. I hope so. Exhaustion is a hollow god.
In the Spirit,