Rendered Fat Content


Rembrandt van Rijn: The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (c. 1644)

" … much better off just staying away from engaging."

Exhaustion might be the most dangerous of the human conditions, for those experiencing it lose their ability to recognize its presence and influence. Judgment typically goes to Hell, while once trustworthy intuition fails. Because of these and other ramifications, it's considered best just to avoid exhaustion. This probably means expending significantly less than one hundred percent of one's energy in any single instance to maintain some reserve and preserve some semblance of balance. For over-achievers, this moderation might feel indistinguishable from slacking and appear to observers as an absence of requisite dedication, as if one really should be killing themselves to show their deep commitment. The perfectly human tendency to turn even innocent activities into internal competitions only exacerbates this difficulty because competing further inhibits sensitivity. We willingly kill ourselves, often exuberantly!

We wash up on desolate beaches after falling overboard.
We try to just continue with our activities of daily living but fail. We confuse ourselves next by misdiagnosing the issue. We might feed ourselves believing we're only hungry or sleep as if we were merely tired, but neither food nor rest produces the desired result. We're still dragging and very likely in denial. The sheer force of will can compensate for many shortcomings for a while. We never know how long we might bull through the barrier before we hurt ourselves. Even after hurting ourselves, we're likely to misdiagnose the trouble and continue engaging in ever-increasing earnestness. Exhaustion renders a special sort of crazy.

I might be the kind who needs interventions. I have generally proven myself incapable of turning myself around. I need circumstances to sweep me away or someone who loves me to successfully call my bluffs. Neither of these ever proves to be small deals. I can be remarkably resistant to even the very best-intended advice. I can argue against my best interests. I do not need to be judged as having gotten something wrong to reform. I might need forgiveness first, but that usually only works if I can find some way to supply that to myself. I'm Exhausted, though, and hardly capable of nursing myself back to health. I'm far more ill than I'll ever suspect. I might already be over the edge.

Indifference might ultimately be the only cure for whatever it is exhaustion does to me. I might finally find myself utterly fed up and cease caring. I might finally find myself distracted enough to break out of the self-reinforcing cycle. However it occurs, I stumble back into the universe's good graces, where GoodNuff seems as if it might be GoodNuff again, and thoughts of winning and losing fade from foreground consideration. I seem capable of taking anything entirely too seriously, especially when something seems especially important. Engaging altogether too seriously seems like the very recipe for inducing exhaustion. It might guarantee the opposite of whatever the aspirant desires. I must hold my imperatives loosely, or they flip around and get me. I must hold my deepest convictions slightly skeptically, or else they seem determined to undermine me and my intentions. Until it's play, I'm likely much better off staying away from engaging.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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