Antidote to Exhaustion

The poet David Whyte writes, “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness. You’re so exhausted because you can’t be wholehearted at what you’re doing….”

A friend writes to me of his exhaustion. At work. With family. And of the emotional intensity that he underestimated. He’s apologetic. I so feel for him. My friend is so not alone in this intensity, nor in the thinly veiled disguises intended to deny the difficulty. The pattern is so much more than personal — it’s systemic and societal overload, perhaps even inescapable.

Another friend texts me, “What if you were to really believe that there is nothing wrong with you?” I smile, kind of. She knows that I’m wrestling to be thoughtful, yet not take these systemic patterns personally. I reply, “It would feel utterly freeing.” I’m glad to have friendships in which we remind each other that sanity is more than scrambling in a misguided system. They reset the intention to offering contribution.

All of my life, I’ve held some underlaying belief that all is not as it seems. All of my life, I’ve sought for what is beneath the surface. The river under the river. The thing behind the thing. I don’t fully understand why — I’ve just been oriented that way.

Except when I haven’t. Which has been often enough. You can’t live in the 21st century and not be seduced by at least some layer of over-stimulation, hyper speed, and uber scaling that satisfies because of it’s shimmer.

I’m amazed by the courage it takes to hold this path, to not just follow the sparkly. To stay thoughtful. To stay patient. To be fierce, and kind. To be awake, and not overburdening. It’s not one to do alone.

I’m grateful for the momentary sweetness we offer to ourselves and each other that wholeheartedness can guide the way. Not just rest. And not just caffeination.

To wholeheartedness. For all of us.


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