Core Emotion

larmes et feu
Originally uploaded by arums.
I have been dead tired for the last month, but more specifically the last week. A nine day week of 8-10 hours mostly in the cold finishing a remodel for some friends who are having their 3rd kid in a few days has brought me to a tiredness that sleep doesn’t even phase… it runs much deeper, at the core of me. The downside to this kind of fatigue is what it does to the rest of me. I can still function. No falling asleep as I stand in line at the grocery, or seeing illusionary elephants flying around. But the core drain is on my ability to feel. That gets to be dangerous for anybody who I bump into… I tend to not care hide or hare about anything, or anyone and am ok with it. (I’ve been told that Prozac has the same effect)

The being tired isn’t new. I have been here before sometimes for 2-3 weeks. I might have shortened my life span a bit, as a result. One time I had to hike a group of Michigan kids into the tropical mountains of the Dominican Republic in a rainstorm for 18 miles and 8,500 vertical feet…before the sun set on us. By the end all I could do was cook their meal and try not to emotionally wound them too bad when they went on and on about how tired they were. Another was managing two evacs in one day, the first minor one starting at 2AM after 2 hours of sleep, the second a few hours later and ended in a life-flight to St. Mary’s ER, to which my friend Ashley got to see me do a little diddy when the pilot radioed they were clear and away; all this while smoke from local forest fires made visibility for everybody blind and I had already been going 110% for the previous week.

This time around I have been bothered by how numb I have become in the core of my weariness. It helps that apart from the 2-3 women I have had a conversation with the past few weeks, my world has been amidst all guys…and emotions tend not to be a concern or forte amongst the general male populous. Hell, most of us don’t even know we have emotions until at least the mid-20’s, (aside from the hormones of 16). This hasn’t been my blind spot though – for good or bad.

Being human is to experience life and part of that experience is feeling things. At the end of what is likely my last day of this excruciating schedule I went running, hoping that would maybe stir something besides the blood. It shook the cloud over my head a little but not enough to bring in light.

Then it came from the oddest of places: watching an episode of The West Wing called, “Someone’s going to Emergency, Someone’s going to Jail.” The main story in this episode revolved around Sam – a white house attorney and presidential speech writer – who has just found out that his dad had been keeping a mistress in an apartment for 28 years, cheating on his Sam’s mom. So, he is already wired in when a friend of a coworker asks him to put her grandfather on the presidential pardon list for her dying dad’s sake. Her grandfather had been accused of treason as a soviet spy in the 40s, was only sentenced to 6 months for purgery and died in prison from a heart attack. All the evidence looks like a poor case and false accusations. But then unknown to Sam, this particular case tweaks a lot of people in the FBI, NSA, and State, resulting in a meeting with the NSA head showing him the decrypted conversations and codename of this presumed innocent grandfather. Not only was he a spy, he specifically got others killed to save himself. All this strikes the core of what is going with Sam; who pretty much feels like he is finding out about his own father’s lies, deceit, and betrayal all over again.

He is pissed, and hurt. So, he is heading up stairs to tell this gal who asked for the pardon who her grandfather really was and all the dirty mess of it. At the last minute he has the wherewithal to not tell her the whole story, but to say things didn’t fall in place and she can tell her dad they tried. He knows at that last moment that his own shit shouldn’t destroy this woman’s hopes. You can see the stunned tears in his face. And this, THIS was when I found myself teary-eyed too…feeling a mix of compassion and understanding.

Now before you go thinking I am far too easily taken down by some innocuous TV show, know that Sam’s story is close to my story. No, not the working in the White House as a speechwriter and lawyer – I know you went there first. It is him dealing with his dad’s incomprehensible choices and what it does to him…yeah, been there many a time myself. He wants somebody to pay for the hurt he feels, since it doesn’t seem dad will. The moment of mercy he has on this woman reveals the truer nature of a heart any of us could desire.

I could easily take out whatever frustrations or hurts I have on the innocent bystanders in my life. I have done it many a time before. A friend may get his or her ears boxed by me and it is a complete mystery as to why, because I wanted to “hit” somebody and anybody would do. I see this kind of stuff every day. It is probably the source of most road rage and divorces.

It is so surprising that when my core is drained, it is an act of mercy that brings it to life.
The tear or two I felt – finally – at the end of the show was a nice reminder not only that I am alive, but I sincerely need not be too hard on myself or others. Maybe being alive, truly alive, is fueled more by grace, by mercy, than rage or anger. For some, I know, it takes feeling the anger first to even know they are alive. But if God has made a new heart then the anger learns compassion; learns that there are bigger pictures than the one seen. And that is worth a smiling tear in my eyes, even when I am exhausted and numb.