Friday, December 08, 2006
Weary Is Not Tired
Firewood warms you twice. Once when you split it, and once when you burn it.
There is a tradition among the descendants of the flinty Yankees around here of hard physical exertion as a cure-all for any kind of neurosis.
They liked (like) seawater baths, and sleeping with the windows open in the winter, and eating chaff they've stored in the root cellar. They rubbed salt on kanker sores and took cod liver oil with a tablespoon. They wear wool and revel in the itch like a mendicant monk in a hair shirt.
I've seen their pictures, from when such behaviors were not affectations and symbolism alone. Grim, unsmiling miens looking through the camera lens like a wraith from the afterworld. They must have seemed as inexorable in their industriousness as any army -- or swarm of locusts.
I remember reading about the neurotic mess John D. Rockefeller's son became. His father had him chop wood for a whole season to try to wear the burden of no burdens out of him. The patricians' children fool around with physical exertions still, and misguidedly think it's work.
I have in my life slept the benificent sleep of the physically exhausted unworried child. It is gone from me, forever, I think. Physical exertion has never represented a pleasant diversion for me. It's been my lot in life, for a good portion of it anyway.
By any metric, I've chosen that lot in life. If I wanted to get doughy at a desk, and think of nothing but diversions to occupy the rest of my time, that way was open to me. It was not to be. I chafed in the traces. I'm not fool enough to blame the tack shop.
But beware, you who exhaust themselves in such diversions, both mental and physical, and think you are tired like a man who's lot in life is different. A summer job is not the same as looking out at horizonless effort. An aspiring starlet does not know what it's like to work for a living because she malingered in employment in a coffee shop while waiting to become a sort of princess. She never knew what it was like to have no other hope than comfortable shoes, to the end of her days.
It is very different to go to bed and slumber because you are tired, than it is to wake up weary, and know no rest but the grave.