A few weeks ago my Wife , Dana (I can say that now!) went to Atlanta to work with the CDC. She’s had a blast, but her leaving always does about the same to me. I don’t sleep.

Similar to allergies, I seem to readily forget the impact she has on my life. In this case as a stabilizer, reminding me to take care of my self a bit. Its always a shock, 3 days in, to realize I’ve gotten 4 hours a sleep each night and getting fatigued. Its some primordial lack of discipline, to be sure. Throughout the absence, I oscillate back and forth between states of focus and doing, and states of surrealism and being damned tired.

It was in one of these fatigued states I had a mini-revelation, that I’ve not completely sorted out as yet. First, I must provide some context and a bit of history.

Friends in recent years have heard me lament numerous times my concern that I’ve lost my edge. I don’t feel like I take enough chances, speak out enough, muster the same rage at the system as I used to. Kind of the plight of the aging punker. I’ve a difficult time moving on from who I was trying to be, even when it doesn’t fit anymore. As a result, I often lag behind myself and what I should be doing. I’ve been trying to reconcile the former agitated self and the new self, and not doing a very good job of it.

There are certainly life-explanations. I have a lot more education and age now. It makes sense that I am more attuned to the nuance of situations and recognize “its just not that simple”. As I’ve gained more stability and success, it also makes sense I take less risk, put myself out there more: I have something to lose now and the system benefits me. I imagine an element of burn out plays in, especially with my inability to quickly adapt myself to the now. I put a huge amount of effort into cultivating who I was in a particular environment. It’s exhausting to always make choices according to how you think things should be, rather than just riding along. Often, I get Nihilist about the world, and don’t feel it matters or I cede all my agency, not seeing what meaningful impact I could have.

So, I find myself riding along more and more. I don’t like this person. While the argument of maturity certainly assuages some of the sell out guilt, it robs me of the meaning of my own actions. I used to take pride in my stances. (Some would argue too much.) Its one of the things that my friends came to value in me. I stood strong, was thoughtful and even-minded. Aside from a lifestyle that made sense to me, I think it also provided some anchorage to people around me.

Now, I find myself asking myself what I stand for. What I believe in. I have a difficult time maintaining passion. Part of it is environment to be sure. I am now around more educated folks who seem afraid to be angry, and make it feel inappropriate for me to feel that way. (Also, the amount of ignorance among the educated is an astounding.) I find I oft’ have little in common among my colleagues, as such. This makes it hard to get excited about socializing. The same old discussions bore me to no end, and represent a kind of mental masturbation. “We are clearly superior, seeing the world as we do. If only those slobs we smarten up and see it our way…” Even when I muster the anger needed for action, it ushers in a hopelessness as I struggle to see how I might really affect change.

Looking back, I believed that my life and choices would have impact. I possessed an almost singular focus and vision. At work, at school, with my friends, in the store, I always had a sort of social scanner going. It was like I trained myself to recognize any number of patterns that were counter to my world view. My thoughts ran deep and critical, and I even managed to articulate them.

Now its different. Again, I’ve left behind depression (though gained some anxiety) and my unstable trapped world. Along with this, left that focus and vision. I’ve tried to find a way to regain it, to no avail yet. I don’t know what drives me right now. Part of moving on from depression was believing I could take some of it with me, but what I did seems to ebb more and more. (To clarify, the vision was more sociological than personal, if that makes sense.)

What’s this got to do with Dana in Atlanta? The sleep. The last day or so, I found myself so tired I had to struggle and fight for wakefulness. I was beyond tired – I was exhausted. I was fatigued enough to almost ache. That’s when I noticed – the sociological third-eye had returned. Even the literal way I saw the world was the same as a decade ago. I was removed from my body. Disconnected and looking out from my mind. Not distracted, I saw the world more truly, sharper.

I know that anxiety caused my depression, and depression was in part because of the exhaustion caused by being constantly anxious. Now, I am left wondering what this means, that the person I was, and who I was, is completely bound up in me being horribly tired. More importantly, I wonder if knowing this helps or hinders me in reclaiming some of the passion and vision when I am wakeful.

Posted by Andrew     

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