Thursday, March 27, 2014

Debt of Energy

by Allison Pang

The first law of thermodynamics says energy cannot be created or destroyed. It's either kinetic or potential and essentially all things do is pass it around in one form or another.

I would beg to differ when it comes to my youngest. She's pretty much a perpetual motion machine trapped in the body of a little girl. The rest of us have to eat or sleep before we can soldier on, alas. Though I admit my stamina isn't what it was, even from only 5 or 6 years ago. I used to be able to stay up later for days at a time without repercussion.

These days? Not so much. Writing into the wee hours, or all night gaming sessions are becoming a thing of the past. What used to take me a nap or two to recover from can now take a solid week to catch up. (And days of crankiness and feeling like crap, which don't help me me much.)

Part of that is health reasons. Part of that is juggling schedules. Working. Kids.

It all adds up and cuts into creative productivity time.

Do I write, or do I spend time with the kids? Clean my house or go for a walk? Okay, the last one is a joke. I don't clean much. The kid thing is pretty legit though - as irritating as it can be to have things interrupted, the truth of it is that they will not always be so little, and they have to come first.

But sometimes it isn't about time, per se. It's about having the energy to do the things I need to do vs the things I want to do.

When it comes to health issues, I tend to point to the spoon theory, which is a chronic illness thing. It's not about just feeling tired - it's about legitimately having to make choices. Do I expend the energy to take a shower, or do I cook dinner? Each activity costs a spoon...and you only have so many spoons on a given day. Use up too many and it can cost you pretty bad later on.

In general, I have more energy then I did over the past year. Some days I don't. There is nothing quite as frustrating as wanting to get some writing done, only to wake up and realize that it's not going to happen today. It's not a laziness thing - it's about knowing I need to go to the grocery store and that just doing that will probably use up everything I have. No matter how much I try to nap or rest, it won't make any difference.  (If it were just laziness, you'd find me gaming or reading or doing something fun...but I don't have the energy for that either, more's the pity.)

Now, I will admit things have gotten better for me in some ways - since my pain is mostly under control now and constant pain is exhausting in its own right. For example, I visited a friend on Sunday and walked for several miles all around Old Town Alexandria. In the past, doing something as simple as that would have left me crippled and in severe pain for at least a week. It's a choice I would have made anyway, simply because I haven't seen this friend in many years - but I would also have been very aware of the cost.

But aside from some mild leg cramps and a bit of stiffness, I was perfectly fine. Even my infamous slipping SI joint stayed where it was supposed to be.

So the balance of energy becomes a precious commodity. I hoard it up when I can to use it when I'm best able, but I've also come to realize that some things are out of my control. Like a credit card, I've got an internal limit - burning the candle at both ends sometimes seems like it can be the better, faster way to do things, but the cost of doing so too many times is usually pretty detrimental in the long run.

The interest rates are a right bitch.

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