April 2018

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer #3: Tired and Fatigued

Summer #3: Sometimes when I mention that I'm struggling with fatigue, someone--trying to be sympathetic-- tells me they're tired, too. I appreciate the kindness. For me, though, feeling tired and being fatigued are two very different experiences.

I have generally been tired as a result of overdoing it: playing halfback in a soccer game, staying up late at a party, or working long hours at school. Being tired involves overdoing it with at least one muscle: my calves, my brain, my heart. In each case, I continue because I'm engaged, and there's an adreneline rush that gets me through until I crash. A good night's sleep, and I'm back to normal. In the long run, I have more energy for pushing myself to this point, for being so engaged.

Fatigue, in contrast, is in my bones more than in my muscles. There is no adrenaline rush. I will not be back to normal after a good night's sleep. I simply have no energy. I am depleted without any obvious reason to explain why.

With these tumors and their treatments, I have experienced physical and emotional fatigue, but my spirit remains strong. When I was younger and trying to figure out how I fit in the world, and then I I fit in my world as a lesbian, I experienced a spiritual fatigue that went much deeper.

I have been strugglilng with phenomenal physical fatigue these last two weeks, but these last two days I seem to have come to life. I'm not sure why.

When I'm fatigued, I tend (like most people) to quote Tennyson's refrain in "Marianna": "She said, 'I am aweary, aweary.'" I never complete the refrain, though the beat of the complete refrain captures the trudge of the emotion. "She said, 'I am aweary, aweary./ I would that I were dead.'" As hard as the recovery has been at times, and as weary as I have been, I am always experiencing the grace which is life. I know this is not true for some, and I hold a special place in my heart for those who are so weary that the grace of life no longer captivates them. If this is you, you are in my heart.

When I think of you, I think with hope of the ocotillo plant. I first met this desert plant in a desert museum walk years ago. The plant looked like a bunch of long, dead sticks, oddly planted in the desert sand. The sign in front of it read dramatically, "Dead or Alive?" In the distance, other ocotillo were green sticks, watered by the spring rains, and at these ocotillos' ends flamed the red flower that is such a miracle, an enthusiasm of life at the edge of what seemed to be dead. Alive is the answer to the museum sign's query.

I don't know if nature's metaphor helps you, but I will think of you and the ocotillo and pray for spring rains now.


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