Getting off my butt to run is hard: I don’t like running. I’ve just eaten. I am going to get cramps. I have something else to do. It is far too late to run. I can always do it tomorrow. I’m tired.
Putting my shoes on run is hard: I know what is going to follow. It is too hot. It is too early. It is possibly unsafe to be on the streets. It is embarrassing to lumber within the sight of the neighbours. I am not unfit. I could do this tomorrow. I’m tired.
Staggering through those first five minutes of a run is hard: I don’t deserve to be in optimal condition. I have failed myself. There is no point to this literal exercise. What’s the use? I’m only going to get sidelined by something else again. I’m worthless. I should give up. I’m tired.
Everything is exhausting lately.
It is difficult to look into the magic eight-ball of Twitter and not despair of everything that occurred in the world. Every day, I wake up with a sense of cold dread. Something will have gone wrong somewhere. Something else in the world will be broken beyond repair. And I am so tired of everything.
All I want to do is stop trying.
I want the path of least resistance. I want a middling job with a reliable salary. I want to not have these words gestating in my throat, these pockets of description and reams of plot; how many people care about them, anyway? I want to curl up on the sofa with a packet of crisps, and watch something mindless until I fall asleep.
I don’t want to go out running. I don’t want to polish this draft. I don’t want to keep writing short stories; the risk of rejections is almost more than I can bear. I don’t want to keep going. I don’t want to keep hurting.
Everything is hard right now.
But the alternative is letting the universe win.
Every decision we make has repercussions. When we choose the difficult option, we are committing to the idea of labour and the possibility of labour, the knowledge that all our efforts can be summarily undone, no matter how carefully we plan it. When we pick the harder route, we are agreeing to suffer.
But when we choose the simpler option, when we elect the path of least resistance, we are also permitting the negative consequences to play out. When you give up on calling your senators, you are removing a voice from that clamor, making it the choir so much quieter, so much easier to ignore. When you give up on your personal health, you are automatically agreeing to your muscles degenerating, to putting yourself at risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease. When you let the Black Dog into your house, when you decide that you can’t find color or beauty in this malfeasant timeline, you’re letting them win.
Which is not to say that it is not okay to be tired, that it is not okay to shed your burdens and put your head down to rest for a minute. We cannot be angry forever. We cannot run every hour of the day. We need rest. We need to recover.
But we need to get up again.
We have to get up again.
Because that is the only way anything is going to get better.
Because that is it the only way we’ll ever be able to run those ten kilometres. Because that is the only way we’d ever be able to see the end of this mess. Because like sharks, we need to keep moving, or we’re going to drown in our own ennui.
And we can’t let that happen.
Especially not now.
Cassandra Khaw‘s Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth is out on February 17th, 2017, published by Abaddon Books. The first in Khaw’s contribution to the Gods & Monsters series, Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef is out now. A short while ago, the cover was released for the author’s third story in this setting: Food of the Gods. Cassandra is also the author of the Persons Non Grata series of novellas, published by Tor.com: Hammers on Bone and the upcoming A Song For Quiet (August 2017).
Also on CR: Interview with Cassandra Khaw