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October 14, 2021 - Joy Reed Belt

Christa Blackwood, "Boy Play: Richard in Red," 2020, Archival Pigment Print, 16 x 14 in.

Over the past couple of months, I have noticed that almost everyone I talk with states that they are either tired or exhausted during the course of the conversation. The “tired conversation” began in earnest with the spread of Covid. The state of tiredness was an early symptom of Covid. Feeling extreme fatigue was diagnosed as a lingering symptom of long Covid. But recently the majority of my friends and business acquaintances have begun stating they are “exhausted.” I have also noticed that while I get physically tired during the day, with rest, that condition abates. But the feeling of exhaustion cannot be relieved by just resting. The exhaustion I experience is as mental and emotional as it is physical. My feelings of exhaustion seem to gain momentum when I have to make decisions. Consequently, I became curious about the increasing weight of decision making and started digging around a bit for probable causes. 

D.J. Lafon, "Woman Candles," Oil on Canvas, 40 x 32 in

Various internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions a day! Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226,7 decisions a day on food alone. Just think about how many choices you make when you order your favorite coffee every morning. How many do you make while getting dressed each morning? How many do you make when driving to work? At work, are you required to make decisions for others? How serious are the consequences of the decisions you have to make at work? By the time we reach adulthood most of us have developed coping mechanisms that help us make decisions. We have learned to be more disciplined, how to prioritize and plan. But the introduction of Covid into our lives has dramatically altered our decision making processes. We haven’t been able to spend holidays with our extended families and spending them with our immediate family has become stressful. It’s almost as if someone has poured layers and layers of difficulty on every choice or decision we make and we are required to think defensively.


Kathy Rodgers, "Inspiration of Matise #1," Acrylic on Board, 18 x 24 in.

Art and reading are my go to stress busters. Fortunately, I get to spend a lot of time in my art gallery which is located in the Paseo Arts District. But I also have a wonderful collection of art in my home that I have amassed over the years. Living with art is critically important to my sense of wellbeing. When I am totally exhausted I will start moving art around in order to establish new conversations with the art. It helps me fend off the pervasive exhaustion of this time. I also spend at least two hours a day reading. Remember the book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?” The author, Robert Pirsig received 121 rejections before an editor finally accepted it for publication in 1974. It stayed on the best seller list for decades, selling upward of 5 million copies. It’s basically a book about problem solving that explains how a combination of rationalism and “being in the moment” can harmoniously coexist and potentially create a higher quality of life. As the holidays approach I think we should seek to reclaim that balance. Finding ways to actively participate in the things we enjoy doing will help us manage our anxiety and might keep us from feeling so exhausted.

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