I am completely fatigued. Worn out, tired, exhausted, burnt out and used up. It doesn’t matter that I got plenty of sleep last night or every night for weeks. It doesn’t matter that my work schedule is light and I am definitely not overworked at the moment but I am tired. I finished up my day yesterday sat down, put down my phone and my iPad so I was disconnected from the outside work and turned on the TV. All the normal programs that I love to watch were too much for me. Documentaries, talk shows etc were just not going to cut it so I sat an watched comedies for a couple of hours. Even then I couldn’t laugh. At least not out loud. I would just say “That’s funny” or a weak “haha” and this was a completely normal evening for me over the last couple of weeks.
There is just so much going on in the world – so many important overwhelming issues that I just don’t know where to put my energy. I don’t know where to focus my concern and passions. I live a pretty comfortable life. I live in a place that has avoided being directly affected by any of the natural disasters that seem to be rolling in one after another with relentless energy. I am lucky that most of the inflammatory political rhetoric hasn’t directly affected my life. Still, at any moment that could change. I don’t like to sit around and worry or wonder in fact I am grateful that my life is where it’s at now.
But honestly, my default mode is not to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. I want to help to step into the fray and find a place where I am needed but not in the way. No matter what the issue is. A couple of years ago when my nephew fell out of a tree and had to be airlifted to the hospital with a concussion. My first response was how can I help. A few hours later I found myself taking my niece on a walk to get out of the hospital room I went the store to buy him some new clothes to wear in the hospital. Ease the burden – that was what I wanted to do. After the earthquake in Haiti, I was in a position to travel to Haiti and make a difference by helping people in need connected to an organization I was working for at the time.
During the last couple of years, I have been strangely insulated from most of the issues, people and places that have captured the world’s attention. I have dipped my toe into connecting with one interest or another but never found that there was something that drew my passions and skills into the fray in a way that made sense for me. I have kept my ear to the ground and my heart open to what that thing may be but it has eluded to me seemed to call my name but then disappeared like a mirage. It’s not been all desert, there have been some oases that have stopped at a moment and a place where I could focus my energy and passions into a project that was really making a difference but then my time is up and I need to move on.
It’s hard though to see a world that is filled with need, disasters, conflicts and an environment out of control at a pace that seems to be picking up and I don’t feel right just being a bystander offering my thoughts and prayers while I live a life of relative comfort. So, as a result, every day I am fatigued. Exhausted of energy, worried about where to put my compassion, tired of the lack of action that I can take in the light of so many possible places to put my energy and worried that my life will slip by while I did nothing.
Wow, that felt good. I needed to vent. I needed to shake off the shadow that has been hanging over me and express the darkest parts of the angst that has been hanging over me. Now I need to step back and remember that I am just one person. I need to remember that my greatest contribution is in the relationships I create.
Earlier this week my wife took me to a film premiere for a series of web documentaries that Starbuck produced called Upstanders. In the latest season, they profiled 11 individuals who have taken their angst about the world they live in and done something about it. There was a story of a woman in Montana who spearheaded a refugee resettlement program in Montana, a man in the South who woke up to the fact he was prejudiced and decided to change, a Republican congressman who realized he needed to do something about climate change in an election year and lost his job. After the film they came on stage and shared even more about what had given them the courage to stand up and do something that didn’t seem intuitive within their community. What struck me is how normal they were. They were people who just blended into their community and probably would have never rocked the boat. Except for one thing, they were open to listening and learning from the world around them and then taking a step to bridge the gap on issues that most people might just be overwhelmed by.
So for me, I am glad I am fatigued right now. It means I am open. It means I am ready to listen and learn. I should be thankful for the calm in my life because that means I’ll be ready for the storm when the moment comes.
Author: Andy Yardy
Photo credit – Andy Yardy