Something I often get anxious about is not knowing what my energy levels will be like on any given day. If you’ve never experienced a bone wearying exhaustion that seems to come for no reason (ie, the tiredness comes not because you’ve been running a marathon, or just moved house, or been awake for 72 hours straight, but because you’ve just been…alive) then that worry might seem completely alien. Or you might say, “just make sure you get plenty of rest!” and think that plenty of rest would help.
Yeah, not always.
Sometimes the tiredness is so acute that I don’t know if I ought to be on the road. Sometimes I have the appearance of being awake and alert but my brain is basically on screensaver and my limbs feel like lead. Sometimes I sleep and wake up even tireder than I was before I lay down. Sometimes I’m so tired, all I can do is cry.
Working against me are two things: thalassemia (which is a genetic blood disorder that basically means I don’t get enough oxygen going round in my blood, so I can get tired very easily) and depression (which is an inexplicable bastard of a thing that basically could bite at any time, so I can get tired very easily). And also, to a lesser degree, having an introverted personality where I recharge by being alone rather than with groups of people. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy groups of people, it just means that my capacity for interaction is limited, and rapidly drains me rather than energising me.
But the depression is the thing that keeps me focused on the what if? instead of just taking life as it comes.
So this week I have two things which I am trying not to be anxious about. From Monday to Thursday I’ll be at staff retreat in the Blue Mountains, with a fantastic group of people, eating food, looking at God’s word and thinking big picture things about work. This is all good. And my colleagues are aware of my need for rest, and respect that. But just the nature of being in a house full of 10 other people, you have lots of conversations, you participate and engage, because that’s the whole point, and I know that when I come home on Thursday night I’ll probably just crash.
Then on the weekend, it flips and I’ll go from being in a house full of people I know and who want to engage with me to being in a room full of people I don’t know, having to push myself to interact. On Friday, I fly to Melbourne for the Big Hearted Business (un)conference, which I have been greatly anticipating for months. It will be two jam packed days of (hopefully) inspiring talks and activities and being around many creative people who have similar thoughts, dreams and struggles.
I’m going on my own so I’ll have to talk to people I don’t know. I’ll have to explain who I am and what I do, because that’s kind of the point. And I’ll have to travel around by myself in a city I don’t really know that well, so will have to be paying attention. Aside from which, I want to suck the marrow out of this (un)conference! I want to come away with renewed passion and vision for my creative work! I want to launch off into the stratosphere and…
Thud. I keep coming back to “but what if you’re too tired? What if you’re too tired to take in information at staff retreat? What if you’re too tired to explain things? What if you’re too tired to get around Melbourne and you get lost? What if you’re too tired to interact with people? What if you’re too tired to take anything in all week and it’s all just a waste? What if…”
Silly brain! Why worry about things you don’t know about?
Two of my favourite Bible passages which I feel I should tattoo on the back of my hands (it’s okay, mum, I won’t):
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Take that, brain. I’m going to have a great week with great people. And there’s nothing you can do about it.