I am tired. I’m not going to lie. I wouldn’t do that to you. Just outright exhausted. Pooped. Spent. Cansado. Yтомленн. Müde. 疲れた.
But I am going to do my best to power through with my attempt, and hopefully something cohesive will emerge. Then again, what really is the feasible likelihood of that anyway? Good question, Ian.
Like many of you, when I get tired I tend to get a bit loopy. I’ve made some dangerous decisions while tired, said my fare share of nonsense (to the point where one friend even made a t-shirt commemorating my prattle), and certainly been a part of some buffoonery that I likely wouldn’t otherwise have engaged in.
To be honest, I also wrote some of my most poignant and intriguing philosophy papers on next to no sleep.
My last semester of college I had stretched myself so thin that in a matter of sixteen weeks I had pulled over thirty all-nighters. Because I was the Student Body President that year (which is a library of stories in it’s own right), I had an office on the first floor of my dorm building that I practically lived in, and in turn, slept in. Keep in mind that this office was a legitimate closet at one point, so the body to space ratio was fantastic
I also was a sucker for any chance I could get to spend with dear friends, so at almost any request to go get a burrito, play with the furniture at Meijer, or just head to Dunkin Donuts and talk, I was eager to oblige -sometimes returning hours later to my dungeon of academia with hopes of productivity.
We had a widely ridiculed and chastised Public Safety officer who would often come to my office. He would simply share his struggles and dreams, his highs and lows, and his thoughts on a variety of random topics. It was always so interesting to me how the night seemed to bring out a different side in people. We developed a really remarkable sense of mutuality and understanding with one another. We were certainly odd friends.
Me – Rambunctious student, often pulling random pranks around campus, getting caught for many of them.
Him – The over-zealous Public Safety officer with a killer mustache who probably took his job a bit too seriously.
We were the friends who could never be. Even though we still were. Kind of.
It was random relationships and endeavors like this that led to my continual state of self-inflicted fatigue. I remember scampering into my room and pleading my request to whatever roommate was present as I headed for the bedroom. “Wake me up in seven minutes, okay? I desperately need to be up on exactly seven minutes. Can you do that for me? Please say you can. I love you.” I would then wake up an hour later in a panic, run out of the room and ask my roommates what happened. “You sat right up and told us that you took care of it and that you didn’t have to wake up anymore” they would say. “We just believed you.”
So apparently my body was in such a state of exhaustion that it had to make up clever lies to tell my roommates while I slept just so it would rest a little more. Sneaky little body… That couldn’t have been a good sign.
One week was particularly rough, and I ended up pulling two all-nighters; back to back. Let me fist stop here and say that I would not necessarily recommend this method of existence unless you are prepared to lose some friends or wreak some serious havoc. The glowing effect that comes as a result was fairly interesting, though. But not a fair trade off by any means.
On the third day of my sleepless rampage, because I was the Student Bod President, I was to speak at our annual “Founder’s Day Chapel”. Keep in mind that this particular chapel is twice as long, so it’s worth twice the chapel credit. A good start already.
I showed up to chapel with throngs of other staff and faculty in my brown suit, trying desperately to stay alert. I quickly realized that every other person there was dressed in black, with the exception of possibly a pin or pair of earrings. Fantastic.
They then arrange us according to how we will enter during the processional, and where we will sit. I of course, will be in the very first row on the stage, facing a chapel full of my peers.
As students begin to fill the space, the organ begins to play and this cavalcade of 99% black suits and 1% brown suits begins to march down the center isle to the stage. We reach our position in front of our chairs, the Dean of Chapel on my right -the Dean of Student on my left, but cannot sit until the organ piece is finished. I remember looking back and forth at these two men, probably with a childish look of anticipation as if one of them was going to tell a joke. My eyes were big, and my mouth was likely open as I credulously glanced back and forth at these two men, waiting for the music to finally stop. I remember finally fixing my gaze on the Dean of Chapel to my left for a moment, and then, over the sound of the music, blurting out “You’re tall!” at a considerable volume.
He looked at me, stunned and possibly embarrassed at such an odd statement and responded “Um, yes. Yes I am. Be quiet.”, and then continued to look forward.
I don’t remember too much else about that chapel. I remember I tried to make some joke about Bette Midler before reading the passage in Proverbs I was supposed to read. I remember the President’s disapproving look after I made said joke. I remember getting emotional by the end of the passage, but having no idea as to why. I remember wanting to retreat back to my bed so badly, and simply sleeping until the weekend.
I heard an interesting story on the radio today about a man who was a bathroom attendant for swanky clubs in New York. One particular club he talked about was a place called “Floats”.
He described Floats as a classy, high-profile dance club in the trendy neighborhood of Manhattan. He explained the long lines of eager individuals that was always present. He outlined the space as a massive multi-level room with incredible lights and sound, always packed with people -600 or more every night.
The only bathroom in the place, the bathroom where he worked, was unisex. A small,three stall space with two sinks, tucked away in the basement that every man and woman there had to share. It was here, tucked between the two sinks, that he set up his small stand and cash bucket. He would sell anything from gum, lotion, condoms, perfume, and cologne.
He recalled numerous instances where things got out of hand in this small chamber. One instance in particular was when a man came marching in, yelling and screaming, and locked himself in one of the stalls. Moments later, to other men came storming in, and asked the attendant if he saw their friend. He assumed it was the other surly gentlemen, and directed them to his stall. They proceeded to dump their drinks over the stall no him, and then the madness began. They broke the door open, and started punching each other will all the grace and poise of a dunk club-goer. Mace was eventually pulled out, and the entire bathroom became filled with the burn, making it difficult to breathe. Eventually the first man opened his jacket to reveal a police badge and a gun, and the other two men were arrested -for what, we don’t know.
In this interview, the host asked the attendant why he thought people always seem to come to the bathroom in situations like this, and I found his response interesting. He said “Everyone needs a place to get away, a sanctuary, and in a place like this sometimes the bathroom is the best you got.”
In my weariness today and this week, I couldn’t help but connect with that a little. Sometimes we find ourselves in the ear-numbing confluence of a noisy and crowded nightclub and are desperately seeking refuge, sanctuary. Often times, we don’t have the luxury of retreating to the woods, or checking in to a weekend-monastery visit, and yet we know we desperately need a haven. Just like the club experience, sometimes we choose to be there, sometimes we are dragged there against our will, but the reality is that we cannot hear, we cannot see, and in that environment it is incredibly difficult to make wise decisions.
It’s over-quoted, I know, but I simply love the sense of harborage I get when I read this:
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
I find it so interesting that Isaiah doesn’t mention a particular place when describing this processes of rejuvenation. Obviously both Big “C” Church and little “c” church are both absolutely integral parts of God ushering in His kingdom on humanity, that community and corporate worship and edification is irreplaceable. But the crux, the thesis of this small section seems to imply that our strength, our refuge needs to come from Him first. That all of the self-help programs, healthy friendships, accountability partners, and touching sermons come second to the strength and rest that is found in God Himself. He will accept no parody, and neither should we.
We should be so incredibly encouraged by that! We need not scramble to the three stall bathroom of refuge that everyone else is rushing for, we do not require stained glass or powerful sound systems. The God of grace and peace, of safety and refuge, of restoration and inspiration chooses to live among and IN us. He is not a God who stands by the sidelines. The curtain has been torn, friends. May we rest in His provisions, and walk with endurance and in the company of our Creator.
When we are tired, he gives us rest. When we feel crazy, He is our sanity. He holds, protects, nourishes, and focus us -then unleashes us on the world once more.