At the End of the Day

I’m at a loss for words. It’s not because I have nothing to say–there’s always something to say, and it’s the obligation of the artist to say anything in the most elegant way just because he can–but because I have no energy with which to say it.

It’s a strange concept. Yellow wallpaper and casks of Amontillado and roses make me weary with words and passages on past events elude me entirely. Heroes converse daily, and creation occurs now in its place. From driven snow to western apocalypses and fallen angels and odd-ball superheroes to clones with no memories.

I said my mind is chaos. And these are only my homework assignments.

The other day–because I love tangents, bear with me–there was someone who came by the on-campus food pantry. Sadly, we have helped so many people that now our shelves are practically empty. So as he left he said some remark about it being a waste of time for him to even come, that there wasn’t anything good left. Well, yes, there may have been some truth to his words (black beans and peas do not make for much), but they were the most ungrateful thing I had heard from anyone all day.

I don’t want to be that way.

I vowed more than a year ago, in fact nearly two years ago, to make a list of one hundred things I’m thankful for. I’ve only just barely reached the halfway mark, and as I go on, I find it’s harder and harder to find unique things I’m thankful for. Yet I’ve decided to set aside Thursdays–merely for its alliterative properties–to be my days of thanks.

But today I’m just too tired to feel anything. I’m exhausted. My brain has been fried on high and then overcooked. It’s a soggy mess of grey matter. Melted cookies-and-cream ice cream probably looks healthier than that mush floating around in my noggin right now. I haven’t slept but four hours at the very most each night for the past week, week and a half. I’ve read assignments half asleep and lost grade points because of it. And only seven weeks have gone by.

So in this sour state of mind, with little else to occupy my thoughts than how wearied I’ve become, I’ve decided to be thankful for something completely irrational: I’m thankful for exhaustion.

Like I said, it makes no sense.

But like I said, I’m beyond making sense.

In a way, though, exhaustion is a blessing. I’m the kind of guy who’s cursed with perfection. No, I am not perfect–I merely try to make everything around me perfect. In theory, I appreciate flaws: Only God is absolutely perfect, therefore nothing else can be absolutely perfect, therefore everything should have some flaw to mark its place in the world. I think I heard this idea related to handmade Persian rugs once, I can’t remember. But in practice, I’m far worse: I cannot rest until something is absolutely perfect, or at least as great as I can make it.

It’s got to be a clinical condition. I can’t see my perfectionism being anything else. I know it holds me back and puts me under more stress than necessary, but even despite knowing I have this problem, it drives me insane to know I haven’t done something as well as I know I can. I feel better dead tired all the time than knowing I’ve failed to produce my best work. Mind you, I’m not trying to be the best–but I demand always to be better than I was. It’s outright vicious.

So where does exhaustion come into all of this? It’s actually rather simple: I’m the kind of guy who would work myself into nonexistence to get everything done. I would forget to eat, forget to sleep, maybe even forget to breathe in pursuit of that flawless final product. However, doing so with such fervor is not only insane, it’s deadly.

Instead, there’s this thing called exhaustion that swoops in when I want it least and forces me to put down my textbooks, set aside my pencils, and take time to relax, to breathe, to sleep. I hate vehemently that it keeps me away from the things I need to do, but I know it’s probably better I have this buffer than I don’t.

Tonight, I have a final draft to submit, some rows to knit, an application to complete, and a history text that’s far from complete. I expect to get to one, maybe two of these things. I’m simply too exhausted to get to all of them. I hate it, completely despise it, but what can I do? I’d have no hesitation in working myself out of existence, but at least now, it’s only inconvenience. I will learn. I will proceed with life as usual. But maybe now with a little more breath, a littler self-awareness, and some drive to keep me coming back for more.


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