The Value of Exhaustion

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My mother has often said that tired feels good at the end of the day. As a youth, this seemed like another thing that adults say that has little resonance (like my grandmother and her “time flies” repetitions).

It didn’t help my youthful impression that I hadn’t yet turned into a morning person, which meant that I felt zingingly alert at what anyone else would have called “the end of the day.” After all, I’d only awakened twelve hours before—or fewer.

Most adolescents sleep until all hours, but I started in childhood. I never watched morning cartoons. I slept through them.

Then, meet now.

As an adult with all the perspective life experience brings and as a morning person who gets up early enough to see the full day stretch ahead of her, I love the feeling that I could fall asleep between when I pull back the covers and drop into bed.

Yet when I search the Web for articles on the physical and psychological value of exhaustion, I find only information about dodging tiredness: “How to Never Feel Tired Again.”

That sounds awful.

I don’t want to feel tired during the day or to wake up tired. I’ve experienced both types of exhaustion, neither of which I’ve particularly enjoyed. But avoiding exhaustion entirely?

No way.

I get satisfaction from reaching the end of the day and feeling that I gave it everything I had. I left it all on the field. I did hard, good things. I challenged my fitness, my career skills, my mental acuity, my emotional horizons. I jumped in with both feet and yanked every iota from the day that I could have. The exhaustion I feel on the back end says, “Good job.”

I wouldn’t want to lose that feeling.