26 March 08

Tired: Let Me Count the Ways (Then Name Them)

Nicole of Turning Leaves just posted about how we lack words for states of tiredness.

Not words for “tired” — we have plenty of those. She wants words to describe these feelings:

There is the wonderful fatigue of relief. There is the foul mood of not having slept at all, or worse, having slept tiny dribs and drabs while in an uncomfortable position. There is the nervy sensation of having had a chance to really sleep, but not being able to.

There are several I’d add: the irritable fatigue of trying to get some sleep in a hospital but being continually woken by officious nursing staff taking readings and changing drips at all hours of the night (and day). The sweet, salty but aching fatigue of a long bike ride (or hike or run or aerobics class) and the sweet, salty but utterly different aching of a day spent digging in the garden. The honey-fatigue of deep relaxation, such as that following a massage. The monotonous and monochrome fatigue of depression. The fatigue of having really been under sniper fire, instead of just misspeaking about it, and not just for a brief trip to an airport tarmac but for days, weeks, or even years, the miracle of adrenaline finally giving out with disastrous consequences. The long slow blank fatigue of hunger. The deep fatigue following energetic sex.

Any ideas for words for any of these states of being?

Posted by at 07:52 PM in Books and Language | Link |
  1. The lassitude of the tropics; I don’t know if I’m really tired but I can’t seem to move. The sweet drowse of sitting in the sun, again a specialty of the tropics. Or the itchy, twitchy fatigue of wakefulness; uncomfortable in the most comfortable bed/chair/hammock yet unable to drop off. The watchful alertness of the new parent, drunk with fatigue, waiting for the newborn to take it’s next breath.

    Susan    27. March 2008, 18:54    Link

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