So there I was, having one of my periodic, “Set the World to Rights” breakfasts with my friend Graham. As usual, I was playing my figurative violin when we first sat down. This is how I lull Graham into a false sense of security before his turn in the inquisatorial barrel begins.
Last week’s conference in New York was good but grueling! The law office is yammering for my attention because end of month, quarter, and fiscal year reporting Must Be Done. Book deadlines left, right and center! My recent travels have been appallingly nutritious, which means at least two hours a day on the tread desk and Not Much Fodder. Then there’s Darling Child, who has decided to move now of all times, and that means–
Erm. I swung my verbal cannons around, because I know to expect that sort of insight from this guy.
“Wallow in solitude, write, read my keepers, meditate, be patient, make lists and then DO them, make Got It Done lists, have breakfast with YOU…”
But his question prompted a realization: I’ve lost some of my bounce. Thirty years ago, I could miss a night of sleep, as was often required by the job, and recover with a weekend nap. Motherhood arrived in my late twenties, and I could get up and down five times during the night, and still be productive at work the next day. A few years of that, though–and of weekends no longer devoted to rest and unstructured time–and a missed night of sleep took a greater toll.
Now I’m in my fifties. If I have a truly awful night of sleep, I take days to recover. A week-long conference that requires me to be Publicly Charming for hours each day, and I’m not going to bounce back after a nap. I can meditate diligently (a contradiction in terms, I know), I can tackle those deadlines (I love to write!), I can sleep, hibernate, cuddle up with my keepers… and a week just won’t put me entirely to rights any more.
I don’t think this is burnout–I’m pretty happy, most of the time–I think it’s aging. Everything has slowed down, except maybe the impulses to love and laugh. My wits and my heart remain in good repair. I also notice a compensatory skill developing, and that’s a patience with myself and with life.
Well, no, I don’t spend a week in a conference hotel without suffering an energy sink afterward. I’m not the energizer bunny I used to be, but what a frantic, self-centered, noisy creature she was. Now, I’m more patient–with myself, with life. Now I live and let live to try again another day. Now, I’m better at realizing, “I’m bushed. This will all still be here tomorrow, and I can be more efficient if I’m rested.”
The trade is energy for wisdom. So far, I like that trade pretty well. Many romance novel characters get presented with opportunities to make trades–courage for loneliness, love for safety. Has life handed you any trades? Freedom in place of security? Privacy instead of popularity? Health instead of wealth?
To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Tremaine’s True Love, which hits the shelves on Tuesday!