Modern Life Fatigue (and what I’m doing about it)

I’ve got modern life fatigue and I’ve got it bad. Unlike all my other blog posts to date, I’m not even being dramatic. No, seriously. Seriously.

(Reading 12,381 hours of the Outlander book series probably hasn’t helped the modern life fatigue but as my Dad sarcastically says “Let’s not confuse the issue with facts.”)

Stuart often reminds me that “everything has a bite” and I’m feeling the pinch of this modern life. The bite of it, as it were. There are many blessings (modern dentistry comes to mind) but that certainly doesn’t mean our modern times are without their deep valleys of challenges.

We are not spared trials, though those trials seem to be far less primal than times past.

I find myself envying the 18th century characters in my novels slightly. Yes, life was hard (like really, really hard). But it was also honest. Straightforward. Dare I say – that life makes more sense to me.

This year has been one for the books and I, like almost everyone, am fatigued by it all. Not only the happenings, which are dire in and of themselves, but with the noise around the happenings. The aggression. The shouting. The helplessness. The battering day after day. The connection – too much connection?

But it’s not only that. Modern life fatigue also manifests as habits I hate in myself.

Picking up the phone for no reason. Allowing technology to steal my precious thoughts.

It’s Facebook notifications and comments and having been “99+ unread messages” behind for years. Translation: Do people think I don’t care? Will they be angry that I haven’t responded? What if I miss something really important? Ditto on the email inbox. And the Instagram notifications. And blog comments. And text messages.

But it doesn’t stop there.

It’s watching Netflix at night instead of giving that energy to my husband.

It’s the speed of driving in a car – being able to transport so quickly from one place to another, the world whipping by at a speed that makes me nauseous. The ability to be everywhere because we can travel so quickly means there can be a constant pressure to be everywhere, the body not given time to adjust emotionally or physically. Our calendars explode with activity and vacations because they can.

It’s the bright, harsh lights – so combative with the warm, soft hues of the sun.

It’s wishing the objective of life was easier: eat, stay alive.

It’s not that I’m pushing back against the regular trials of life, but rather, I’m pushing back against too much of everything.

I’ve been knowing I need to turn down the noise for awhile, both literally and figuratively. And so, just for a night, Stuart and I ran away to a cabin in the woods. No electricity, no running water, no cell phone service, just twenty minutes from home. All we took was a few blankets, a bottle of Bordeaux, and a small package of food.

I needed a moment to think. To process the best way forward for our family in light of COVID, a changed culture, a changed community. a changed future. I needed a moment with Stuart without the “ding” of a cellphone, the hum of an air conditioner, or the demands of work.

Just a moment.

The result was aggressively expected. My modern life fatigue needs to be dealt with. I speak for myself in truly and freely admitting that I’m simply not emotionally prepared to process life at the speed it operates in our modern time. I process slowly and contemplatively. I need time to adjust to social situations, interactions with people, and social demands. I need silence. Nature. Intimacy with those around me.

I simply can’t hold pace with the world’s newsfeed.

Though I still don’t know the perfect remedy for a blogger with modern life fatigue, I do know that life is far too short to not squeeze it for every drop of goodness it has. I’m hungry for it – I want to feel it, taste it, smell it, dig into it.

While I pray and contemplate a new way forward, for now, I’ve simplified just a little. I’ve begun to burn beeswax candles at sunset instead of turning on the lights. I’ve turned off the audiobooks, podcasts, and music (reserving them for certain times) and let the house rest in silence. I’ve turned off the air conditioner and just felt the air that the season has to offer. I’ve turned off the phone more often and let it sit in one spot of the house instead of carrying it around in my pocket. I’m investing faithfully in those that I share a table with and those around me. I’ve submitted to the fact that I can’t give everyone what they want of me and am working on being at peace with what that means for my messages and inboxes.

I know this post lacks full resolution or call to action – simply a pondering of my heart and an expression of what’s trying to form in it. A primal desire to life simpler. Truly simpler. But better.

I need a rewiring of the brain that calls thoughts to be deeper and well thought-out, far beyond the knee-jerk-emotional-social-media-reaction.

I need a rewiring of the brain that calls entertainment to be simpler, like a child plunking the keys on a piano, watching the goldfish swim around the pond, or a visit from the neighbor.

I need a rewiring of the brain that focuses on virtues like patience, responsibility, honesty, fortitude, and propriety.

A rewiring of the brain that grows deep wells of discipline, care for others, and strength.

That’s the world I want to be a part of building.

I think I’ll start right here at home.


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