Friday, February 19, 2021

Exhaustion is Not a Virtue

The exception: As a soldier I was always tired and didn't feel particularly virtuous.

Starting when I was a teenager, I began believing that exhaustion equaled virtue.

I feel both indebted to this philosophy as well as cursed by it.

On the positive side, I used this thinking to push myself into endurance sports. When I would get really tired, I would reflect that the time was well-spent and I was  okay.

More problematic was when intellectual challenges would confront me, I might stay up all night, thinking such discomfort an advantage in cognition – it most certainly was not! The mistake was believing that extreme fatigue equaled extreme effort. Such could happen, but usually did not.

Now that recovery from exhaustion takes so long because I’m old, I’m starting to reassess some of my assumptions. Namely that maybe its better to do things in moderation because you enjoy them in a more fundamental way, rather than only feel good about your activities if your body is so sore the next day you need a walker to eat breakfast.

I still like long bike rides and hikes that take up the entire day. The notion that I’ll endure an unnecessary suffer-fest because such will give me “bragging rights” or make me feel more virtuous has gone the way of my mullet and jean jacket.

I understand many will take this as some random concession to aging but I see it as another element of knowledge of self.  


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