Weariness & Renewal
Today the temperature around our home hovers near 0°. “Can super cold weather make me tired?” I ask. We talk about it. It can. Sometimes. That’s why it’s good to sleep in a cool room. It’s also why trees and fields and waterways need winter. To rest well.
Whatever the reason, these days we are tired. In fact, we’re full on weary.
You may be, too – no matter the temperature around your home.
We’ve all been through a lot. Especially with the onset, persistence, uncertainty and isolation of COVID-19. Interwoven with that have been the ongoing brutalities of social injustice, economic hardship, and then the unprecedented tension and violence around the 46th transfer of power for the U.S. Presidency. All of it heaped on top of everyday challenges that are closer in, more immediate, more personal. The burdens are real, and they’re heavy.
Here lately there’s some evidence of lifting. We’re cautious, but we sense a positive turn. Maybe that’s what’s allowing us finally to feel the extent of our fatigue.
The fact is, it’s right here in the middle of exhaustion – in the slowing, the stopping, the stillness that can feel like paralysis – that rich opportunity exists for checking into and supporting the health of your inner ecology. Early on, Full Ecology showed us that our social ecologies are as vital to steward toward health and balance as the ecologies of nature. This, of course, is because we humans are nature.
Social ecologies are the ecologies between us and within us. Internal ecology turns out to be the first filter on how any one of us acts – with other people, with the wide world around us. Weariness is internal weather.
Most of us learned early in our lives to be busy. To produce. To perform. To achieve. All in the public eye. For a year now, we’ve been more isolated than not. Friendships have dropped away. In the overwhelm and fatigue – in the pause that weariness brings on – issues we used to opine about and then forget as we jumped back into busy performance, are harder to avoid. They demand we examine our part. What’s been my part in racial injustice all along? What about gender bias or any of the zillion versions of xenophobia woven into the fabric of our culture? What is my role in environmental degradation? Why does any of it matter? And how am I getting along with myself? The persistence of COVID and its attendant exhaustion can’t demand you check any of this, but it will make you more miserable than ever if you keep choosing to avoid yourself, your role in the world, your life.
It turns out that the greatest portion of our weariness comes from the energy it takes to avoid these questions. And, most essentially, to avoid the grieving they must bring on.
This, then, is exactly the treasure that weariness has to offer. Be with it. Rest. Really rest and listen to the quiet. You’ll likely hear fear, sadness, grief. Instead of distracting yourself as usual, make some space. Pay gentle attention. Notice how, when you admit and listen to grief, you feel lighter. Grief opens the way to forgiving yourself and the world for bringing in so many burdens. At the same time, really being with grief makes it possible to appreciate yourself for making it to now.
Stepping right into the gaping space of low energy will reveal fear and grief but will at the same time uncover all the things that have gone right along the way. You’ll begin to see more clearly the quality and reach of what you do, even as you allow your body and spirit deep rest. Savor the connections you’ve nurtured, or rekindled – with people, with the wide world of kindred making up the world outside your door.
The natural world is, as ever, our reliable guide. Outside our window right now, it appears gray, stock still – deep frozen in weariness. But we know that just beneath the ground and threaded through all the frozen spaces, life flourishes. It weaves new fungal networks, cuddles new seeds, houses animals in burrows and dens, and shelters stalwart birds.
Turns out, the weary moments are vital. When instead of resisting we welcome them, rest in them, learn from them, we find our way more easily, more naturally to renewal. To rekindling, revising, and rebuilding toward the next time conditions are right for a our more public expression – for action above ground.