George Gershwin’s 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess features the classic “Summertime” lullaby, “Summertime and the living is easy.” Hmmm … sorry, Mr. Gershwin, the living isn’t always easy, especially in summertime. I know the jazz-inspired song was written almost 90 years ago, so maybe Mr. Gershwin never saw the summers we’ve been through lately.
COVID-19. Lockdowns. Food shortages. The sun wants to sizzle and bake, fry and dehydrate every living thing. Wildfires all around the country whip into a frightening frenzy. Gas prices are beyond insane. We hear again and again of violent acts against the unsuspecting innocents.
The Cascade Effect
Let’s face it. Many of us are tired. Burned out. Weary. Perhaps even brittle down to our inner core.
I’ve experienced some of this angst and malaise myself lately. Ugh.
But just this week I received a letter from author, counselor and speaker John Eldredge. John’s words sent a ding-ding-ding through my thoughts. Finally, someone put to words what many of us have been feeling this summer.
“… folks are running on very low reserves. Of course [we] are. We are now in the ‘cascade effect’ of the past two years. It’s like a car accident—there’s the crash, then the adrenaline response to handle the immediate aftermath. Later (sometimes much later), you realize your neck is killing you or your back just isn’t right. The immediate blow, then the aftereffects. We are now experiencing the cascade effects of exhaustion, mental fragmentation, irritability, and something I want to call ‘apathy creep.’ … Life is asking 100 percent of us. Most of us have way less than 100 percent to give these days. (Right?) So we make it through another day, another week, but when we get home, we don’t have the energy to rally for anything else. We start to let go of things like the gym, saying yes to a BBQ, even making dinner. . . We still care about things, we just don’t have the energy to care about things enough to see them through. Getting out of commitments feels like relief right now.”
Cure for the Apathy and Burnout
Can you relate to any of John’s assessment of what many of us are experiencing these days? I definitely can. I admit that even writing you now is stretch for me. I LOVE writing my blog posts to you, but this week I struggled to harness my thoughts into something of value. (I trust you’re still reading this now.) Call it apathy creep or simply bad news burnout. How much more somber news can we take? And what do we do to get back our equilibrium?
I will follow my own advice on this. First, I suggest we stop and take inventory of how we are really doing. What are we feeling at our core? What thoughts keep rotating through our head—even in the middle of the night? How’s our sleep and nutrition? What about regular exercise? Are you connecting with the Creator and reviving your heart and soul? Trust me. I am not scoring too high in these categories right now, but I recognize the depletion and I’m choosing today to reverse things.
Second, I recommend practicing a change of pace and perspective. For me, I am learning to downshift and let go of some energy-drainers in my schedule. Instead of rushing, racing, revving, I’m learning to ease into my day and take some refreshing breaks along the way. Just writing this blog is helping me slow down and realize I am not alone in the cascade effect of the past two years.
Third, click here to read my “A Beauty-Full Cure for Burnout” that I wrote two summers ago. Read my simple solution for battle fatigue before you read the ending of this post. I just did. I feel refreshed. Relieved. Hopeful even.
We have come so far in our post-pandemic world. We’ve not quite settled in a “new normal” or found that the living is easy, but we are getting there. We are. One small step. One sidewalk drawing. One turtle rock. One sunrise at a time.
Maybe Gershwin and his soothing lullaby was onto something after all.