“Nooo daddy! … I don’t want to!” Then a small flail of her tiny frame. A convulsion that seemed like a tiny cute demon was on that bed and not my sweet Margot. I almost lost my cool. I came so close to getting upset at her for not going to bed quietly like I’d hoped that she would. Today was a great day. Every aspect of it was exactly as it should have been. Except for one little detail - Margot clearly needed a nap, but refused to rest. And as we inched closer to bedtime, that exhaustion was leaking out of her. Yelling that a random book be pulled off her shelf, bargaining to stay up later… all the usual things. For that brief moment I forgot that exhaustion was the reason she was acting as she was at bed time, and candidly neither her nor I both were operating from a place of rest.
The thing is - Margot is all of us. And we are all her. We move through our day/week/year/life and we think that there’s so much we have to see and do. So much that we have to fit in. It’s like we are slaves to FOMO. To keeping up. Maximizing our hustle. And the harder we try to do it all and avoid what our bodies and perhaps those around us are saying… we push ourselves to a place of exhaustion. The reason that’s dangerous is not simply for exhaustion’s sake. It’s because when we operate from that place, we will inevitably make choices that are less discerning than they probably would be otherwise. We get worked up over trivial things, and the things that are actually important can be lost by our exhaustion-induced tunnel vision for that which is insignificant yet shiny or impulsive.
I think we all go through this at various moments in life. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is to allow that to become our acceptable mode of long-term operation. Here are my quick thoughts, for whatever they are worth, on how to pull out of this exhaustive slump.
1 - Zoom out.
Take a moment of pause every so often and attempt to view yourself from an outsider’s perspective. How are you conducting yourself? What are your life rhythms? What do you actually say you want to accomplish with your day/week/year? It’s called a fearless moral inventory. And it’s crucial.
2 - Good is the enemy of best.
Anytime we are willing to do something in the moment because it seems/feels “good”, chances are it may very well be distracting us from what is ultimately best for us. That could be an impulse purchase, an abuse of a substance, or you name it. The challenge is to be willing to endure the momentary pain of saying no — which I venture to say is something few of us are good at these days. In a culture where following your heart is in vogue, saying no is like a wildly foreign concept. But if you’ve done an effective job of zooming out and understanding yourself - it’ll be much easier to know what you should say no to.
3 - Seek sound wisdom.
My job as Margot’s dad is to watch over her and do what I know is best for her. To guide her. To lovingly come alongside her. Somehow as we become adults, we easily forget the importance of the reality that there is safety in a multitude of counsel. Find that person or persons who are further down the road than you… that have a degree of genuine wisdom… and be intentional about creating space for them to tell you when you just need to freakin’ go to bed!
As cliche’ as it sounds, this thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Margot’s not the only one who gets exhausted — we all do. Cheers, dear ones.