I read an interesting editorial the other day that spoke of the prescience of the nineteen-eighties movie, The Thing. In that cult classic there is a murderous creature loose at a research station in Antarctica that is capable of taking any shape. As the tension mounts in the story the main character leaves a message that we might all relate to in these times, “We don’t trust anyone and we are very tired.” As the author of the editorial explained our divisiveness and the preponderance of lies and propaganda that is everywhere these days is overwhelming us as a society. At the very moment when we should be working together, compromising and cooperating we are steadfastly against each other. It has caused us to be wary of one another and to become exhausted.
For a time I spent a great deal of time attempting to be rational, thinking about the pandemic, our presidential elections, the needs of the people of our nation. I was certain that we all desired to join hands together to do the heavy lifting and make the sacrifices that were necessary to get past the impact of events of the past two years. I believed that we all agreed on certain basic ideas, like getting the people of the world well, taking care of those who were struggling, keeping our children safe and educated, supporting our medical community. What I have learned is that in too many instances politics has been “the thing” that is creating problems that need never have happened. Over time I have grown weary of even trying to convince people of the actions that I believe we should all be willing to take so that we might more quickly return to a normal way of living. More often than not, I have been attacked for caring about the well-being of my fellow humans. As a result I am exceedingly tired, as I believe that most of us are.
Back when I was a college student I had mastered the art of the power nap. No matter how much pressure I was feeling, I was able to shut down in the middle of the day for a twenty to thirty minute nap that totally refreshed me and provided me with the energy that I needed to tackle my studies. People often told me that they eschewed naps because they always overslept and awoke feeling groggy. This was never a problem for me and the power nap became the cornerstone of my ultimate success in academics.
When I became a mom I used this wonderful ability to keep up with the demands of my toddlers and eventually teens. I only needed a short rest to be revitalized and ready to match the boundless energy of my children. Once again my ability to recharge quickly was a boon to my motherhood. The people around me thought I was a clone of the Eveready Bunny.
I worked very long hours as an educator, often leaving my home in the morning before the sun had risen and returning after dark in the evening. Most days I still had papers to grade, phone calls to parents to make, lesson plans to prepare. Of course I also had a family with whom I wanted to spend time. I was often able to eliminate my exhaustion with a fifteen minute power nap before dinner.
Somehow all of that has changed in the last two years. My optimism has been stressed by the rancor and lack of cooperation that I witness more often than I ever recall in the past. I have been shocked by the ways that we are treating one another. I still cannot believe that there is so little cooperation among using a very difficult time. I cannot believe that the Republicans are so consistently unwilling to work with the Democrats and vice versa. What I see is a group of people who are supposed to represent us, worrying more about whether or not they will be reelected than doing what they believe is good for our country. All of that makes me very very tired and suddenly I find that my power naps no longer work.
When I take a nap these days I snooze for hours, not minutes. When I awake I am still tired and can’t find enough energy to complete the rest of my daily tasks. So I now avoid the temptation to rest in the middle of the day lest I end up feeling like a slug. My super power nap now eludes me.
Perhaps this new phenomenon is little more than a factor of age. Maybe I have become like my mother who would nap each afternoon for two or three hours and then retire for bed by nine. Maybe we become like infants over time, needing more and more sleep than when we were young adults. My loss of the power nap may in fact just be a natural transition into a new phase of my life, not a reaction to events of the world. Nonetheless I miss that remarkable ability. My type A, gung ho personality pushes me to get things done, but the groggy feeling that overtakes me each afternoon impedes my ability to be my old self.
Increasingly I have to pace myself in ways that were not necessary even a couple of years ago. That makes me wonder if I am simply reacting to the state of our nation. I abhor conflict. I dislike controversy. I believe in diplomacy and compromise. We are all different and have varying ideas of how to get along. We have to work together to tackle today’s problems as well as those of the future. When we continually distrust each other and refuse to compromise so that everyone gets a seat at the table we become very tired. That is where I am now. Maybe one day we will realize that “the thing” will kill us if we do not work together to bring it down. I hope we figure that out soon.