When we work a job on the night shift, we feel the fatigue of an upside down sleep schedule; when we train and train and train for an athletic event, we feel fatigue; when we’ve given it all on an all-nighter studying for a test or writing for a deadline, fatigue fills us. Fatigue is a specter we all strive to avoid, but being human, we can’t do that all the time. We don’t even notice the most enervating and debilitation kinds of fatigue even as they are happening. They are insidious and therein lies their danger; we’ve been attacked and don’t care. For what gets to us most at first may seem like good thing, we are not reacting in such a volatile way, we are protesting wrongs, we are not taking stands about anything, important or not. We’ve become mindless, tranquil souls, drifting in the sea of public opinion and not really caring how we feel, because it really doesn’t matter, nothing matters. This terribly dangerous because, not only do we suffer (though we probably don’t recognize that) but everyone around suffers as well. Usually a swift kick wherever will serve to get the juices flowing again, but if not stronger measures are called for. Aren’t they?
Some of us find meeting a challenge to be exciting, stimulating, and yes, a challenge; challenges are seen by these people as nothing to be frightened or apprehensive about, something to enjoy whether the challenge involves others or one is pitted against oneself. To most who view a challenge this way you haven’t failed if you didn’t reach your goal, you’ve learned enough or will practice enough to meet the challenge the next time or the one after that. To others of us a challenge is something to dread and to try to avoid at almost any cost. For these people a challenge is a very personal thing and meeting the challenge, or not, defines their very worth. They find it is better to reject all challenges than risk a fracture in their images of themselves or the world. These characterizations typify two very different kinds of people, those people of action and those who wait and see; those who stride forward and those who wait behind the scenes. But everyone must face, at some time or another, a sudden, drastic challenge that there could be o opportunity to plan for or to watch. The typical ‘let’s go out and get ’em person may become paralyzed and the watcher may react quickly and effectively. There is no telling what anyone will do when faced with an unexpected crisis. So how effective is it to try to plan for one?
When you’re in need of a bit of time off, when you want to have a bit of time to think, maybe plan, maybe rest, when you want to sleep without being wakened; these are some of the times we will go to almost any lengths to ensure our small bit f privacy. We will hide from our employer in sickness or elaborate excuses; at all ages we will hide from school in a group of friends, extracurricular activities, or new relationships – and if we’re parents the applies; we will hide from our families with smiles and top=heavy hugs and bland platitudes. There seems to be a general consensus that it is not OK to indulge in some bits of privacy here and there. So we get caught up in the games surrounding the acquisition of and loss of personal privacy, which should be no one’s business except our own. We all deserve the right to retreat from whatever we would like to, whenever we would like to, with no questions asked. unfortunately that is unlikely to happen, at least the no questions part, because we want to and we do let people inside our personal bubbles and give them permission for some things. Dictating our personal privacy time and place should not be one of those things we give a way, should it?
We can feel very comfortable in and in control of and unthreatened by worlds we’ve created in our minds; it is safe to hold to our self-defined world and reject those who don’t agree with all our own beliefs and tenets. Very often, also, we forget how restricted our miniature world is and continue to live in a constricted way, allowing for little stretching of the brain and no spiraling imagination or creativity. We may even begin to create a slightly larger version of the world in our brain in the physical world outside because it is so comfortable to be cocooned. And, in fact, a miniature world can be an asset as well as a refuge: you can test thoughts and feelings without unnecessary exposure, you can retreat for a short while and regroup, you can learn again that because things are small doesn’t mean they are ineffective. Even looking at something small – a doll house, a tiny forest on a stump, an entire world in a tide pool – can create a feeling of well-being. We must remember, though, that these worlds are meant to looked at and inspiration from, not to be taken as examples for our own lifestyles. Wouldn’t you rather continue to be your own size instead of shrinking to fit one too small for you?
Some of us think we’re always waterproof and some of think we never are – all of us are at least somewhat mistaken. One can be as prepared as a person could possibly be for wet occasions, but still get caught with wet feet or a random hair wash because you can never be completely prepared all the time; if you spend your life preparing for catastrophe, you may find one instead of avoiding one. It might be best to look at preparedness as something you strive for don’t reach; and learn not to beat yourself up over any perceived lack. There are those of us who don’t recognize mortality, breakability, or anything that might actually affect them. These people are risk-takers who go into things from small and inconsequential to huge and life-threatening with no concept of the differences between the two and with a reckless attitude that likes company to watch, to cheer, and to join in their efforts at proving themselves. These two attitudes and all those in between treat threats or challenges differently, but no one denies that fact that one of the things water does is drown people and you must be careful around it. So it is with all our world. Shouldn’t we respect our world and its wonders rather than try to tame them?
There are times in most of our lives when we feel as if we’re the only one to feel exuberant, our friends seem lukewarm at best about our mood; or we feel that we are alone in feeling down and that our friends are having fun and ignoring us as if we didn’t exist; or we feel so alone and misunderstood that the whole world looks out of focus and off-color. We are disconnected. And when we are disconnected from others and the world around us we easily become disconnected from ourselves. Oddly enough one of the best things we can do when we finally recognize that these symptoms are actually coming from ourselves and that others are not just acting strangely is to take some time to be alone, to take out and look at our feelings and emotions to find what is missing or recognize what we are carrying around that is too much for us. If we take care to be thorough and honest we can plan a long and lasting strategy to keep disconnectedness at bay. For humans are social creatures and must maintain a sense of community, large or small, to feel whole. Acting to dissipate and resolve the sense of being disconnected is better than crawling down a hole to escape it, isn’t it?
We tend to think of illusion or illusions as things that are professionally practiced and that we novices can enjoy as a novelty. We look at the grand gestures and the bold claims made by the illusionists or magicians with envy, since we never think of expressing ourselves so blatantly or merrily. But we, all of us, are likely the best illusionists of all because we tend to live in our own shadows, believing that our shadow is the true measure us and encompasses all that we are. We are certainly extremely talented at hiding under our shadows pretending that there is nothing out there that can hurt us or that will get to us. Because this is so we are always surprised when something does not go or end the way we expected it to. If we were to peek out from our most convenient shelter we might find that we would like taking charge of our own lives; we might like making our shadow follow us instead of huddling in its dubious comfort. The real trick is not an illusion, it is learning to invite other people past your shadow and into your world, keeping your shadow as a well-loved adjunct. Isn’t it more comfortable to be ourselves than only act that way?