I am so tired. I am physically tired from the grueling Groundhog Day of a month that was Tishrei where every time I woke up it seemed the house needed to be cleaned again and food needed to be defrosted and prepared. Thursdays felt like Sundays but then the next day was Friday and how could anyone really cope with a whole month of that?
Even my three-year-old is discombobulated. Sunday morning, after he lightly padded downstairs, he paused before reaching for the light switch. Turning to me, he asked “Is it Shabbos?”
No one knows anymore kid, no one knows.
I am tired of reflexively opening Facebook even though I know it’s a time suck that slowly drains my will to live and drive to create and I don’t even enjoy it anymore anyways. Also there’s now the 50 million hacked profiles by the unknown hackers which has led to the onslaught of copy and paste private messages, panicky statuses about fake profiles and links to Snopes.
Despite all this it’s still the first site I bring up when I open my browser. Habit is a terrifyingly powerful force.
My feed is foreign to me now that I am friends (Facebook friends) with so many people that I don’t really know, yet am unable to pare down because every time I attempt to do so I am reminded of the things I like about these people I have never actually met and will likely never meet. I think of all of them so fondly at those times.
Though lately each new day on Facebook brings another post that results in me choosing to snooze for 30 days or unfollow or some other conveniently non-confrontational way to whittle down my newsfeed to an increasingly more narrow (and full of lighter content) sampling.
I am tired of being nervous about saying the wrong thing in conversations with acquaintances, and, in some cases, friends. I am tired of wondering who, if anyone, I am allowed to like anymore. I am tired of trying to navigate what went from generational or cultural difference to unpleasant opinion to evil incarnate. I can’t keep up anymore.
When a rebbetzin in a shiur made a comment about “the liberals,” I am upset, of course I am upset, but at the same time, I understand her context. I take into account her age, her background, her likely sources of news, her milieu, and I cannot help but think about the wise things she’s said, the comfort she’s given me in difficult times.
I wonder, when did we stop being able to hold whole humans, with all their glaring imperfections and failings, in our hearts? When did everyone have to perfectly conform with the most current worldview to be worthy of our love and respect? When did we stop allowing room for people to be wrong, to make mistakes?
And if we cut out everyone who is still holding offensive opinions, outdated prejudices, then who will talk to them? Who will influence them? I guarantee you that Facebook is not going to be the vehicle for that particular change.
It so hard, so deeply hard to have real life conversations with people who I do not agree with. I am not great at speaking up in the moment. I am not quick on my feet (there’s a reason I’m a writer, I like to take my time), and often, in the face of a shocking statement, I am struck dumb only to endlessly ruminate over the encounter in the weeks to come.
Like one experience I had, years ago. I was sitting near a woman who was sorting papers into two bins in front of us. I had some trash, a food wrapper or some such thing, and since I didn’t want to contaminate something that might be recycling (it was a lot of paper she was sorting), I asked this woman, someone I didn’t know well but thought of in a friendly way, if one of the bins was for recycling. She made a grimace and then a disdainful comment about how she didn’t go in for all that “saving the planet” business.
Here I had thought I was just being polite but I had inadvertently veered right into a contentious political topic. I don’t recall what my response was. I do recall being shocked at the intensity of her response. And in the past few years it’s only gotten harder, the topics more painful.
I am tired of trying to do the right thing and always feeling like I’m just not doing it right.
I am tired of forgetting to turn to my siddur, to listen to a shiur, to learn from a sefer, to connect to something less fickle and volatile than the news cycle which is running us all into the ground.
I am tired of turning to a shiur or a sefer and not finding comfort, because what spoke to me twelve or eight years ago no longer satisfies and I need to seek out new inspirations, but in what time (I am happy to take recommendations).
Mostly, I am tired of being tired. I know that as this week, this month progresses, I will slowly sort back into a rhythm, I will find my feet and much of this malaise will dissipate. But the underlying difficulties that I currently find overwhelming will still remain, will still be there to tire me the next time things become overly hectic.
In the past, I probably would have shoved them back down underneath the routines of life. But this time feels different, there is something in the air that cannot be ignored, and I hope that I will have the strength to change the habits that need to be changed, to speak up when I need to, to voice what may be an unpopular opinion at times. And I hope I continue to see those people who disagree with me as whole people, and I hope they are able to see me as well.