Musing on Weariness (Not ‘Just Getting Old’)

I have been so busy, so focused on getting to a certain point in professional advancement, in being thought a success, in self improvement, that I may have missed a few important milestones on the way. I think my career tunnel vision has blinded me to an achievement that must’ve come years ago but I am noticing for the first time now. I have mixed feelings about it. I seem to have reached a stage of maturity in which I am reconciled to things I’ll never do or be, and am content to focus on what I am doing and being. Does that mean I’ve given up dreaming? Have I capitulated to inevitability? Have I quit on myself?

I read a snippet of something on the internet recently, a fragment of creative writing full of angst and grit and pretension. It’s the kind of thing written by someone with more depth of vocabulary than depth of experience. A piece of well-written prose that paints a picture entirely different from what the writer intended, because the writer can’t possibly imagine, in his utter lack of practical knowledge, the experience and emotion living in the words he chose. It’s as if he saw in his mind’s eye a grimy, sad, dusty, Mad Max landscape of dramatic and violent change, when the real view out the window of those words is the weathered, age-worn, tattered, remains of real lives exhausted during the slow decay of existence. Both views are full of sadness and regret, but the poignancy of the latter is lost in the clangorous note of unreality in the author’s description. 

The author describes a person who sees a problem in the world, who knows it’s cause, and after cursory attempt to rectify the evil in the world, decides that mankind is doomed and so we all may as well be resigned to our fate and lay down to die. That overly dramatic, angst-ridden capitulation screams of immaturity, of inexperience with actual defeat after laborious effort against strong opposition. 

Yet, does that criticism, which I admit smacks heavily of cynicism and world-weariness, brand me as the jaded voice of someone worn-out and devoid of vision, of dreams for the future? If I say the author doesn’t know what weariness after labor really is, I imply that I do know and am weary. Does that mean I’m advocating the very capitulation that I criticize the author for imagining?  

Don’t write this off as my feeling old. I don’t feel old. 

I feel compacted, pushed-in, dented, bruised. Yet, I continue my labors, both personal and professional. I keep going. Am I continuing my labor only out of habit and rote repetition, having lost the ideological fire that started my journey? If so, is it something I can reclaim? Do I want to reclaim it? 

This uncertainty is unsettling and I can’t even fully explain why it is so troubling. 

There is no quick answer, no comforting platitude that will soothe this ache. Only great effort of mind and deep search of the soul will yield any insight. That’s why the weariness of labor of any sort is so dangerous. It robs the energy for enlightenment. 

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