“I’m tired.” Two words uttered as frequently as Love You, I’m Hungry, and What’s Up. Let’s face it, we are beings who rarely feel rested and refreshed. And when we do, it is short lived. Most of us can probably count on one hand the number of times in the past year we woke up feeling energized and rarin’ to go. And yet we continue on as if that is normal, swallowing down caffeine and using concealer for our under-eye bags.
Being tired is not just about a lack of sleep (although we all deal with that too, especially as RW’s who are famous for not sleeping well). With these crazy lives we live, I’ve determined that there are actually different levels, or types, of weariness.
Level 1: Fun Tired. This is the rarest form, yet should be the most common. Fun Tired is a result of a great experience, like a terrific day out with friends, an exciting date, a really productive and fulfilling day, a unique travel experience, or even a hardcore workout. This is the only level when we say “I’m so tired, and it’s awesome.”
Level 2: InaFunk Tired. Side effect of being stuck. Could be “the same old dull routine” (thanks Rupert Holmes) of work/school/relationships, or maybe from being stuck in a long stretch of lousy weather or dealing with chronic pain, or a lack of change of scenery. Whatever the reason, mojo is depleted and energy is out the window.
Level 3: Two Wick Tired. The proverbial, yet constant and common method of burning a candle at both ends. All R.W.’s experience this at some point. Balancing far too much, multi-tasking because we think we can, packing far too many things into waking hours, and never slowing down. Yup, that’s Level 3 stuff right there.
Level 4: Emo Tired. Unfortunately another unavoidable variety of exhaustion, this one comes from life events that stomp us down and wear our hearts out, like grief, or taking care of sick or elderly loved ones, or dealing with the loss of a relationship. Whatever is causing it, this level of tiredness is miserable, and we wonder how we’ll ever make it through – yet somehow we do.
A couple of days ago, I woke up in Level 2 with a splash of 3 mixed in. I had stayed up too late the night before, wrongly believing I’m still the younger me who can do more in her day by giving up on sleep and still feel fine in the morning (classic Level 3 shenanigans). The weather was a continuation of 4 days of cold, grey, dreary, rainy sleety stuff. My tendonitis in my wrist had flared up, and my knees ached. And while I love my job, I don’t love my alarm and the hour in which it goes off, even if it is set as the first few notes of a Michael Buble song. But like all other RW’s, I resisted my overwhelming desire to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for the next 4 weeks or so, and forced myself to get up and moving. Part of my daily ritual includes a morning walk with my doggo. Although I tend to sigh and grumble occasionally about this, it almost always turns into one of the best parts of my morning routine. On this particular morning, as we were headed back from our loop, we encountered a man who was putting out his trash. I recognized him as one of the lead workers of the farm we were passing.
He had Level 2 written all over him. The winter coat with hood up against the elements, the slumped shoulders, and the trudging footsteps as he carried his bags of trash, all were sure signs of his tiredness. For my puppy, however, the sight of this man and his trash was the most divinely exciting thing she had seen yet that morning (besides her breakfast bowl and the squirrel she chased up a tree.) Her tail started wagging so energetically that her whole back end had to give in to the force. She simultaneously emitted “oh my gosh, good morning good morning good morning” whines towards the man. When he acknowledged her with a smile and reached down to pat her, she responded with two full circle twirls and that puppy pose that says “drop everything you are doing and play with me all day.” He and I shared a chuckle over her antics and I was able to pull her away only after she got distracted by two birds flying overhead. As she and I walked away I realized that during that brief 30-second interaction, he and I both forgot to be tired.
Try as we might, we can’t all believe that someday we will win the lottery, quit our jobs, and spend our days lazing on a beach. Nor can we expect that somehow magically our lives will change overnight and we will have no stress, and will be able to sleep late every morning. No, the only guarantee is that we will be tired. Often. At various levels and for various reasons. With intermittent bouts of being rested and refreshed.
What we can do, however, is remember that most of the other RW’s we encounter, and even some of the men in our lives too, are walkin’ around in a level. We can help each other out by sharing a bright moment, offering to lend a hand, or even sharing a cup o’ joe (or, more my speed, a piece of dark chocolate). Every little gesture or moment can help us forget for a few minutes how tired we are and more importantly, actually appreciate why we are tired. We can be grateful for the routines we get stuck in, and that we have busy lives full of people who need us so we can burn out our candles. We can be thankful for the special people that we have, or did have, in our lives.
I know I’ll never get myself organized enough to have time for 8 hours of sleep every night. Even if I did, that wouldn’t be a foolproof solution. The goal I can set, however, is to experience a whole lot more Level 1’s. I may still have to use concealer under my eyes – but I’ll have a smile on my face.