Two Kinds of Tired


These days, I feel like I’m tired all the time. Too many responsibilities, too many jobs and non-jobs that are kind of like jobs. I have trouble falling asleep, or I wake up early and can’t go back to sleep because I’m thinking about everything I have to do. Or if I do manage to be asleep, I’m dreaming about it. In my current dreamscape, I’m always trying to leave on a trip, get on a plane or a train, but my luggage is missing, or not even packed yet, or I’m stuck in the airport, or I’m trying to find somebody or something before I can go to the airport, or I haven’t even made my reservations yet and now I’m supposed to be leaving in a week. I really do want to be in Italy or Argentina or wherever, but I can’t get there, and nothing seems to exist beyond the endless stress of trying to get there as one thing after another gets in the way. And that feeling of not being able to get anywhere is basically the permanent hangover that I have when I’m awake — because, while it can be confusing what comes from where when you’re as tired as I am, of course the dream comes from my real life, not the other way around. When I wake up, I feel relieved that I’m no longer lost and stuck and going in circles, and I then I go back to my everyday existential angst of not getting everything done, which feels like not getting anything done, and I think, Huh, well, this feels familiar.

Sometimes, though, I cross a line that’s even worse, into being really low on sleep. In case you’ve never experienced that (and I bet most of you parents and film production personnel out there have), it’s like you’re constantly between the worlds of being asleep and awake, but never fully in one or the other. It’s harder to stop thinking about your dreams because you have less control of your mind, and because, since you’re never fully awake, it seems like you’re never far enough away from them to truly leave them behind. This can be good if your dreams are fun — sex dreams leave you feeling sexy all day, for example — but still off-putting. Nothing feels quite real. And on top of that, your body feels like lead, and your head feels like a rock on top of a pile of lead, as if that could possibly be a thing. Parts of you hurt that don’t usually hurt, or maybe they do usually hurt (with me, something usually hurts — knees, hip, feet, stomach, shoulder), they just hurt more and you’re less able to put the pain out of your mind. You hate everyone, because they’re either in your way, or they actually want to interact with you, or they won’t interact with you when you need them to — when you’re supertired, people are just the worst. And nothing works the way it’s supposed to, from your shoelaces to your feet to doors and faucets, which, on these days, only seem to open in the direction opposite to the one you’re trying to move them in. It feels like the entire world is against you, conspiring to make you move and speak, in words, when all you want to do is go back to bed. You’re like a sitcom character, the grumpy straight man who’s the butt of all the jokes. You’re Mr. Roper.

But some days, you get so little sleep that your grip on reality loosens. Just barely tied to the world, hardly there at all, you’re coasting along on a cushion of “I don’t give a shit.” Now it’s like you’re watching the sitcom, so everything is a little bit funny (there’s no laugh track, but that just makes it better. I always feel rather oppressed by the laugh track: the nerve of it, telling me when to laugh). And because you feel like you’re outside the world, spectating, you see the details that you don’t normally see, almost like you’re seeing only with your peripheral vision. Because you’re observing everything from a comfortable distance, it all feels very zen – or like being drunk or high, especially because a large percentage of your judgment and coordination tends to be off on these days too. You walk into more stuff, you make bad choices on obvious decisions, even post-caffeine. But it doesn’t seem to matter, and once you get into the rhythm of it, because you have to focus so hard on everything and you’re also uninhibited, you actually do certain things better. These are good days to take photos and write first drafts, to bowl or ski, because you can’t overthink and you don’t have the space for self-doubt. It makes for quite a day, or few hours, or however long you can hold on to the feeling without falling over or nodding off.

I hate being tired all the time, and I don’t want this to go on any longer than it has to. But if I could just bring a little more of this second kind of tired to my everyday life, that might be worthwhile. If I could just look at things from the edges more often and laugh, that would be something.

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