Tired? Sounds like a crazy thing to have as the subject of a “joy” post, doesn’t it?
Bear with me.
I don’t mean “wow, isn’t it great to be exhausted?” which would, in fact, be sort of the complete opposite of what I mean. (By the way, did you know that there actually IS such a thing as “Opposite Day?” Yep – although as befits such a day, there’s some question about exactly when it is.) No, what I really mean here is the good kind of tired that comes from pushing yourself to do something a little bit beyond what you think you’re capable of doing. Doing this is especially joyful for me when it also comes with several hours of recovery time. For instance, this week I went bike riding on a route that involved a lot of hills – some were of the “gently rolling” variety, while quite a few of them were of the “I’m supposed to go up THAT?” kind.
I took LOTS of breaks (twice on one hill, as a matter of fact), listened to my body when it began giving me signs of actual distress and not just exertion, drank plenty of water (and replenished with a large sugar-free sports drink), and allowed my tired-out-self to both revel in the results of the ride (14 miles in Carolina heat-and-humidity!) AND didn’t expect much from myself for the rest of the day.
That’s the thing – we forget that last part. We think we ought to be the stock figures in Google images who run and look perky, bike and don’t sweat, and don’t wear anything over a size 8.
Codswallop. We are real women, with the scars and wisdom that come with years of experience. But we forget.
We forget – and that makes us lucky.
The lucky ones have the chance to forget things. For instance, when I was on the shoulder of the road halfway up that hill, sweat stinging my eyes, my knees shaking from the effort of pedaling, sucking in gigantic gulps of air into my searing lungs, I forgot how lucky I was.
I have a bike. I have had brushes with health conditions that could have been disastrous, but I have the health to ride the bike. I have friends along the route, in case I need to refill my water bottle or even a ride home. I have a home. I have a career I enjoy. I have time off from that career after this Very Hard Year. I have those who love me, in sickness and in health, and we’ve seen each other through plenty of both.
So after I got home, cooled off and showered, I reached for a favorite pair of soft, forgiving cotton pajamas. Yes, it was still daylight, but during the throes of the pandemic, I learned that it’s okay to get in your pajamas super-early when your chores and to-do list are as done as they’re going to get. And I also learned that sometimes we all need to treat ourselves very, very gently. Those very well might be lessons I keep hold of. Americans tend to always be in such a hurry – we run to just keep our place in line and the pandemic provided us with an opportunity to ask exactly what we were in line FOR.
The answers have been a bit surprising to many of us.
it’s good to work. It’s good to exert yourself.
And it’s really, really good to rest from that.
See joy, Divas!