Days Like Today, When the Simplest Things Seem Too Difficult: 31 January 2021

Statue of an anguished man with an older woman trying to comfort him from Vigeland Statue Park in Oslo, Norway

Every so often, I have a day where even the simplest things seem too difficult. They’re a chore. I force one foot in front of the other to get from A to B to do C, and it seems overwhelming. And when I say overwhelming, I’m even talking about simple tasks like picking what to have for breakfast or putting on socks. So, yeah, it can get pretty intense at times.

This is that “emotional exhaustion” and “mental exhaustion” I’ve written about before. Sometimes, something will trigger it during my day (and can lead to depersonalization, which brings a numbness or flatness beyond the exhaustion), but on days like today, I wake up in that mood. During the night, I’ve tossed and turned or seemed like I got very little restful sleep, and by the time it’s time to get out of bed, I’m already ready to pull the sheets back up and try round two of sleep. There’s a part of me that always drags my ass out of bed to get on with my day. I’m not sure where that came from other than, years later, reading in Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, “I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I die.”

Yesterday, I wrote about the theme I have been thinking my writing should take for my portfolio for the Hagley Writers’ Institute. I didn’t expand on the fact that the poems I was talking about reflect a time in my life when I met and spent a bit of time with someone famous. Incidentally, I wrote him the other day — in the middle of the night in the States and late at night here in New Zealand — and he wrote back sometime shortly after he woke up. Honestly, my mind told me he wouldn’t write back, but yet he did. I post stuff on social media about us sometimes, and he shares it or replies. The more optimistic part of me says that means he cares about me as much as I care about him. Being older, wiser, and dozens of years away from that point in time we shared together, I find myself missing those times, and regretting that I was so busy trying to play it cool instead of being myself and enjoying those moments together.

Interestingly enough, even all these years later, when something comes on the news about him, people comment to me, “I saw the news item about him, and I thought about you.” That’s the kind of friendship we have. Before I digress too much, I remember one time he and I were talking in a really public place before his work function, and my friends who were with me saw that relationship there. I don’t know if that made it more “real” for them or what, but it was good (for me at least) to have people who know me and care about me witness the truth behind what I’d told them before.

In writing something so personal — okay, blogs are personal too, sometimes, I guess — putting that relationship down on paper and then publishing it for the world to see is, well, difficult. It opens up that wonderful, short time with someone who I felt was a good friend over anything else that he was to scrutiny, analysis, reading between the lines, and that might be something more difficult than my fragile heart can take. And I think that’s where that tiredness comes from. Trying to throw water before there’s any fire to take hold.

I am a strong believer that in good writing, there is some element of truth, some element of the writer, in the writing itself. There’s a famous phrase which holds a lot of truth: “Write what you know.” If you’ve ever read a story or novel and thought, “Man, this is shit,” or “Wow, this is so unbelievable,” I personally feel that’s some deep part of yourself knowing the author has somehow distanced him- or herself from the piece; there’s no personal link in there, and deep down we have the ability to sense that. Many of us can sense when there’s no truth in something someone writes or says to us.

One of the poems I came up with comes towards the end of the poems if we take the events in chronological order. Last night before, I had another flash of inspiration and wrote down some notes about the poem. It does not paint him in a flattering light, but it is the truth of the matter. I felt there were classier ways of him discussing one of the more difficult periods in his life without trying to make himself out to be the protagonist in the piece and a victim to be the antagonist. Admitting fault or being human and one’s shortcomings would probably have been the better option. Alas, not my words now immortalized on a page and not my revision of history.

And maybe that was one of the reasons I woke up the way I did today. Perhaps I was tossing and turning all night because I was uncomfortable about writing a less edited and more truthful yet more complete collage about us. Or maybe I was uncertain about something I hold dear to me being released to the world for critical analysis and dissection. I don’t know.

In the Bible, there’s a verse that says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that Mary held these things close to her heart and she pondered them. I think there are several interpretations of that, and I know Mary herself had a lot more importance in history than I ever will — and I’m comparing apples and space shuttles at this point — but there is weight in that verse that resonates in me. These interactions, these moments, these times with this person are something I hold close to my heart. I reflect on them. The entire world marches on outside the bubble, while in those moments of time, I was hanging out with someone many people wanted a shot at having 10 seconds with. And it was a genuine time together, him and me, which makes it all the more special.

This all may not be the only reason for the “emotional exhaustion” and “mental exhaustion” today. But I think it’s a good reflection on one of the reasons.