I have learned that there are levels of fatigue one is not aware of until one reaches them.
It’s like exercising for the first time in a long while, exhausting muscles you haven’t used in years, or working outside on a hot, dusty day and being reminded of how filthy you can get.
As long as you have a home, you can access levels of rest, relaxation and recuperation which you are not aware of until you give them up – and I gave them up more than two years ago.
I didn’t realize what I was giving up, because I had always had a place to go home to. But now I understand that there are reserve tanks of energy that can only be refilled when you are at home, sleeping in your bed, surrounded by your stuff, living your routine, among your people.
Give all that up, as I did, and one thing you notice is that a normal tiring day can put you into a place of much greater exhaustion than it should. And with being tired, for me anyway, comes a greater sense of being “tired of.” I exist much of the time in a fog of fatigue and frustration.
Right now, for example, I’m on a train in England, and there’s a woman across the aisle who has been talking for 75 minutes, since we left Manchester, about absolutely nothing. Most of the time, train chatter is just background noise to me, but today I want to ask her if she talks about nothing in her sleep, or inform her that not every memory in her head is worth speaking, or just beg her to shut the hell up.
This is only because I woke up too early today to travel to a game, yesterday I spent the day traveling to a game, the day before that I did the same and was up late, the days before that I worked alone in a hotel room, the day before that I traveled, and on and on, a string of days and weeks and months leading back farther than I can recall most of the time.
Think of it this way: You know how, at the end of a trip, whether it was a dream vacation you wish would never end, or a work slog you just had to get through, at some point it ends, you get home and it’s over? You’re at home, it’s time to rest, and some day you’ll go on another trip. Well, what if you never get home? What if it’s all just one big trip?
For me, it’s a matter of sometimes feeling “at home,” relatively speaking, or just of traveling less. I think of it like sometimes I’m “bouncing around” and sometimes I’m settled. A month in an AirBnB feels settled – but it isn’t home. As soon as I pack my bag again, most of that built-up rest and recovery is gone.
Many days, there’s a moment when I find myself – usually leaving a hotel room, settling onto a train, leaving a stadium after a game – when I sigh and think, Right, I made it here, now I just need to get to the next place, and sometime soon I can rest. I often feel like I am executing the plan of some crazy person, or trying to pass an endurance test given me by someone else. Sometimes I feel the way I did when I was drinking and using, wondering why I am taking this next hit even as I take it. It’s like, whose idea was this?
Mine, obviously, and that’s a topic for another day. The fact is, I travel alcoholically. People say to me, “I don’t see how you do it,” and in response I think, “The real question is becoming why I do it.”
I am like a bird flying around, looking for a place to land. I need a nest. I may look, at times and from certain angles, like I am soaring. And there are moments, ever more brief, when I feel that way. More often, I just feel tired, like I can hardly flap my wings one more time, and I wonder why I ever took off in the first place, and when and where I will ever land.