Adjustment fatigue

Another postcard from the land of grief

Yesterday was a good day – infused with the zesty scent of new possibilities and a whole string of new stories to be published. Yesterday was a bad day – stalked by the dank smell of melancholy. Yesterday was a good day – meeting with people who matter in all sorts of ways. Yesterday was a bad day – with fears about tomorrow playing some ghastly version of hide-and-seek amongst the realities of today. Yesterday, like most days in this foreign land, was exhausting.

It is easy to forget that simply living ‘abroad’ in a place where language and culture and norms do not come naturally, is tiring. Unwittingly, you are engaged in a constant battle to adjust, as if spending your day on a balance ball. Years ago now, I spent a year living abroad and speaking a foreign language nearly all the time. For the first few months, even the very business of living was exhausting. The years have not changed that.

Hopefully, the intervening years have taught me that fatigue cannot be charged, like a bull at a red rag. Nor can it be ignored, like some distant smoke alarm which seems like somebody else’s problem. Instead, it must be accommodated, like a creeper growing round the lamppost or a tree growing away from the immovable fence. This, too, is an adjustment – but hopefully it will pay dividends when said tree flourishes.