In which our Hero contemplates exhaustion
He felt that true exhaustion wasn’t the kind of thing that would sneak up on him gradually: seeping slowly into bone and sinew as he became more and more tired. No, true exhaustion fell upon him, suddenly, dropping down onto his back and changing the whole texture of his existence. When it hits, he realizes that there is a weight to air and wind and sunlight; that there is, in fact, gravity. He believes that each day his body is, unconsciously, taking away a portion of his daily energy to combat gravitational forces. However, when he is exhausted, all that energy is redirected to the more important task of keeping him semi-conscious, and so, can no longer shelter him from the oppressive effects of gravity.
Every time he slips into this state he begins to have the same fear that this feeling of exhaustion is what it is to become old. He sees it in the hunched backs and sloped shoulders of the old men on the bus; in their restless muttering and tired eyes that stare straight ahead at nothing. These are final phases of a long war fought with gravity. Soon gravity will push them down as far as they can go into submission: first they bend, then bow, and, finally, lie prostrate before their master. Their pride, the pride of continuing to exist, is the pain they feel; it is what is ground down each day beneath the weighty air.
In these moments he deeply fears that the heaviness he feels from exhaustion is just a taste of things to come: gravity pinning down his prideful life and mocking him for the idiocy of a man who continues to fight in a war he knows he can’t win.
Image Source: Rembrandt via Wikimedia Commons