Two Tales of Tired
Examining Why Stories Affect Us
Sometime in July, the following viral short essay passed through my newsfeed on Facebook. Maybe it passed through yours, too. Maybe you even posted it. Regardless, give it a read, and as you do, pay attention to what you’re feeling.
I don’t know who wrote this but SOMEONE FINALLY put into words what I’ve been thinking and I couldn’t agree more!
I’m tired of covid-19.
I’m tired of black vs. white.
I’m tired of Democrats vs. Republicans.
I’m tired of gay vs. straight.
I’m REALLY tired of the media.
I’m tired of the language being used and plastered all over the media…
I’m tired of no one being allowed to think what they want & feel what they do without offending someone.
I am tired of the people who are out there jumping on the bandwagon to protest just to cause mass confusion and more hatred and to riot, loot, and destroy…
I am tired of folks blaming the world for the sins of a few.
I’m tired of people who think that 160yr old history is our fault… it’s history… get over it!!
We’re one race — the human race. We All Matter!!
You want to support President Trump? You do it! It’s your choice.
You want to support Biden? Fine… also your choice!
You want to believe in God? Okay, believe in God.
You want to believe in magical creatures that fly around & sprinkle fairy dust to make life better? Awesome… you do it!!
BUT how about being mature enough to be able to deal with the fact that everyone doesn’t have the same exact mind-set as you. Having our own minds is what makes us all individuals and beautiful. If you can’t handle that fact….I’m sorry!! I don’t have to agree with everything you believe in.
So be a decent human being. Love one another, be kind, be humble, be thankful, help a stranger and do a good deed, daily♥️!
What was that like? Can you put words to the emotions you felt as you read it? Did any of those emotions have a target? How has your inner state changed as a result of reading it and reflecting on that reading? What do you see as your next step that flows from this experience? Pause here a moment to capture your thinking.
Now, here’s another version covering roughly the same subject. Give it a read, and as before, pay attention to what you’re feeling. Make a few notes to yourself.
I’m tired of COVID-19.
It has disrupted my “normal” and that was hard enough on some days. And yet. I see my family more. We eat our meals together more. We argue more, too, but we are working through those conflicts together. It’s better than the silence we shared before.
My kids are tired.
They miss their friends. Their teachers are tired. They miss their students. Honestly, I don’t know how teachers do it, but I’m thankful for their dedication, despite the challenges. I’m glad the district settled on remote learning to keep everyone safe, even though it’s harder for me to juggle kid tech support and my own work.
My Black friends are tired.
They have always been tired because they live in a country that does not yet value their Black bodies as much as it values mine. I struggle to discover what I can do to help them. I’m not a politician or a lawyer or a business owner. I don’t have any great power to change outcomes for them. But I have some power. So, small as it is, I continue to look for ways to wield it. Even on days when I’m tired. Especially on those days, because I know that whatever I’m feeling, it’s nothing compared to their struggle.
My Rainbow friends are tired.
I have witnessed their struggle for equal treatment. To love. To parent. To work. To celebrate. Regretfully, shamefully, my allyship here is all too new, beginning only when my own daughter expressed her love for another woman. Her courage was a conscious shock to awaken me, to start to understand that their journey has not been as simple as mine. I often wonder whether these personal connections are the only way to awaken people to the suffering of others?
My country is tired.
Tired of sheltering in place. (I shelter in place so that we might all enjoy greater freedom sooner.)
Tired of wearing masks. (I wear a mask so that we might all stop wearing masks sooner.)
Tired of protests. (I write to my local leaders to address the source of the protests — excessive force in policing and insufficient funding to other social services, so the need to protest will vanish.)
Tired of the media targeting our fear and outrage rather than our capacity for generosity. (I stopped watching TV news. I read more books now and longer essays that can take the time for nuance and complexity.)
Tired of politicians working for themselves and their donors instead of for the people. (I will vote for the best candidate that can move our country towards prosperity for all its citizens. It won’t be enough, but it will get there.)
Earth is tired.
Oh, so very tired. Tired of the extraction and exploitation of her resources for the benefit of a few, borrowing against a future that they won’t be around to see. And so, I work to expose the nested, dynamic nature of living systems to all who will listen. We only have this one Earth. The whole cannot be healthy when any part is struggling. There are no parts. Only the whole.
Will you join with me, my friends?
Will you reflect to examine your contribution to the perceived sources of your tiredness?
Will you care to see the nestedness of your life in the larger systems in which you work and play and parent and educate?
Will you act? Will you commit to producing better outcomes for those greater wholes and parallel wholes and for yourself?
What was that like? Did you experience the same emotions? Different ones? Same targets? Different ones? How has your inner state shifted after reading this second version? What do you see as your next step?
My premise is that the two versions touched you differently. Very differently, in fact, despite the seeming similarity in subject. Why is that? Can you articulate a source? Spend a moment to consider the essential differences in the effects each one produced in you.
When I want to examine something for the effects it produces in me, I like to use a framework from Carol Sanford called the Core Human Capacities:
It’s an organizing framework that helps us to structure our thinking so that it can be whole, while providing different colored lenses to see aspects of a whole without fragmenting it into separate parts. Let’s use it to examine the first essay.
The consistent theme throughout is one of external locus of control. The author is tired because of the pandemic, because of racial tensions, because of sexual tensions, because of political tensions, because of media tensions, because of social tensions. The mindset is one of systems and events acting on the author, events that the author feels powerless to control. These tensions disrupt them, overwhelm them. They want nothing more than for the tensions to fade away, so the author can be at rest again. Implicit here is that the status quo without these tensions is a state of rest for the author. That’s privilege. We know, with certainty, that the education systems, economic systems, governing systems, healthcare systems, justice systems in which we are nested are not “restful” for everyone. This systemic inequity is the very source of the tension the author laments!
Moving along the triad, let’s look at where the author is aimed along the continuum from internal considering — concerned mostly with self and near group — to external considering — able to care for the parallel and greater wholes in which we are nested. The entire essay is framed with the author at the center. The author is tired. They show no concern for struggles of other people. They want to leave others alone and to be left alone. And while they value the individuality and uniqueness of every person, they are not concerned with whether those individuals are flourishing and thriving. It’s an odd juxtaposition of valuing individuality but wanting differences that lead to tension to magically disappear by appealing to our shared humanity.
Finally, consider the author’s view of agency — who needs to act? The author or others? In this case, the author identifies no changes for themselves, only changes for others. Others must respect the author’s way of thinking. Others must stop using certain language, but others must also not be offended by what the author says. Others must become more mature. Others must be kind and helpful. This is a mindset of external (rather than personal) agency, where others must act to change the world. If only others would do these things, then the author wouldn’t be so tired.
Does this framework help you understand any of the notes you made earlier? Try using the same framework to examine the second essay. What do you notice? I’m curious to read what effects examining both versions through the lens of this framework produced in you. Leave a response, and let me know what you discover!
Originally published on Medium.