Conserving Energy is Exhausting

The Playground

I am standing by as Cesar runs off to the playground in total excitement. An occurrence which has been taking place rather frequently while we have been staying here in Spain.

Cesar starts to tackle the playground, climbing up and down, running from side to side, sliding down and wrestling his way back up the slide, stubbornly resisting gravity and the lack of friction between the soles of his shoes and the slide.

Cesar Playground-edit

He goes up to some kids and soon a game of chase develops. I am perplexed at his outgoingness and what seems an abundant, never-ending supply of energy and zest in whatever he participates in. I catch myself in a lie, as I realise I’m not all that perplexed – I can remember my own childhood, where bedtimes were plain evil. Why do I need to go sleep?

What do you mean, ‘I am going to be tired if I don’t go sleep now’? I went to sleep at the exact same time yesterday and look! I am still not tired.

I contrast the experience of defeat and sadness of having to go lay in bed as a child, to the longing experience I have now towards my bed – a yearning for the welcome warm embrace of the blankets whose subtle weight help sink me into a state of total unconsciousness and oblivion.

Mmmm oblivion…

I wonder what happened between now and then. All the eagerness to explore and meet the world has been replaced with a fear and desire to get away from it all. I know it used to be much worse. That I used to live in paralysing fear and loosened up quite a bit. Even though the fear is less, it still bothers me in quite the same way as it always has.

I make another commitment to learn from Cesar. To use my practical experience and knowledge I’ve run up in the years, but replace my apprehension with the same innocence and wonder of a child.

As I make this decision, Cesar calls for me. He wants me to engage with his play in the playground. Dread, resistance and fear rise up from inside me and clasp my body. I don’t want to. I am perfectly content standing still right here, where only my eyeballs move around to track Cesar’s whereabouts. Now he wants me to move. Bah.

I recognise the mood I’ve just placed myself. Where it feels like I have no energy, that everything’s just wrong – a flame that’s been muffled and dampened by sand being thrown over it, slowly but surely, having lost most of its oxygen to breathe and grow. The dull flame of adullthood.

As I am about to give in to the dreariness, I remember the commitment I had made a fraction of a second ago. Wow, a fraction of a second and I had almost immediately forgotten, like a dream you had forgotten about until it suddenly comes back to you in the middle of the day, not being quite sure if you really dreamt it or are making things up.

I let a deep breath out. I had felt so inspired when I made that commitment, and it only took a simple request from my son to throw it all out of the window. It’s easy to make a commitment, but a whole lot harder to actually follow through. Right, let’s get at it.

As I breathe in I activate every single part of my body and walk up to him with a face that’s ‘gonna come get him’.

He sees me and his sparkly eyes get even bigger. He knows I got the message and smiles.



How many times a day do we forgo a certain decision or action based on how much energy it will take? How many times do we decline an invitation because we already project ourselves into the future and how exhausted we will be? How many times a day do we imagine all the things we need to do – and the very thought of it makes us feel drained?

As a parent, I’ve come across these scenarios many times. I’ve only got so much energy, I better use it well and sparingly – I can’t expend it now, I need it for the future!

Witnessing my son Cesar – I’ve been forced to reconsider my logic. At three and a half years old – he has shown me that his limits far exceed mine. That what I thought was careful planning of my energy expenditure, was actually costing me more and leaving me with less energy to do all the things I want to do.

Cesar lives in the moment.

Cesar doesn’t care about how much energy he is going to expend for the rest of the day or whether something will tire him out or not. He sees an opportunity and he seizes it. Full on – no holding back. Rather than his activities depleting him, they replenish him.

When I see an opportunity, I first see all the things that can go wrong, what a mistake it could be. I discourage myself. I might give up on the task completely or do it half-heartedly. The result is less than what it could have been and I confirm my sense of inadequacy and lack of self trust.

It’s not that the actual task at hand depleted my energy – it’s all the thinking, imagining, stressing and worrying about it that drains. I may do very little and yet feel as if I’m done for the day. Being frozen like a statue by the playground, would have probably tired me out more with all my idle thinking than running and chasing Cesar for fun.

Whenever I think I am being cautious and ‘practical’ in my approach – are the moments I am wasting the most energy. The fearful thinking in the decision to not do something, like joining Cesar in playing on the playground – because ‘I might be tired later’ drains me more than the actual act of joining him.

When I am constantly on the lookout of what to do and what not to do, a mind set of ‘conserving my energy’ and ‘treading carefully’ – I am consistently and continuously affirming a state of lack within myself. The very act of ‘saving my energy’ – costs me more energy than freely expressing myself and giving it away.

Like a body of water that becomes stagnant – it becomes a breeding pool for parasites and bacteria. When we hold on to our energy it provides the breeding ground for other miserly behaviour and thinking patterns.

Every day I now challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, from my energy saving zone. It can be as small as getting out of my chair and picking something up for him from underneath the table – which he can probably do himself, but he insists I do it – and most of the time, he has a good point asking me – because I don’t want to do the effort of getting up and getting down on my hands and knees into a small space underneath the table. But once it’s over and done with – it’s not that big of a deal. Or perhaps I push myself to run around the farm, as we play ‘super fast train’. Or perhaps I take on a project I’ve been hesitant about, thinking that I can’t do it, that it will be ‘too much’ – to rather do it and afterwards come to a real conclusions – rather than speculating and assuming to know the conclusion beforehand.

Just as I’ve surprised myself with seeing how much energy I can actually expend, and how there always seems to be just a little more left – I’ve surprised myself with tasks and responsibilities that I didn’t think I would be able to complete or handle.

Challenge yourself a bit every day, don’t be afraid to give yourself away freely – and you might be surprised just like me!


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