Some things that surprised me when I let myself be tired
I can't help but think that, rather than being as much of an ode to tiredness, this is a very real first-hand account of the joy of giving yourself permission to focus. "Working on one thing" while your eyes dart to the unread messages badge on your Gmail tab, or the red dot on the Slack icon, or your ears perk at every notification "ding" is not focus.
The state of physical exhaustion or illness can help us break our own mental habits of distractedness or internal feelings of obligation, but those are fully within our control even when we are neither sick nor tired, if we take the time to pay attention to when they appear.
This will be a story of privilege for sure, but during the height of covid in mid-2020, working from home and simultaneously parenting our four-year-old, I had some of the best days of my working life. Upon reflection, much of what I felt was due to how much distance and permission we gave each other as coworkers then; it was OK not to reply to Slack within 5 seconds, it was OK to take a day to reply to an email; everyone was just trying to survive. That distance created space for a lot of things that feel like they're missing in a typical American workday.
By mid-2021, that was over, and the expectations returned to pre-covid levels, which eventually drove me out of that career entirely and onto a new path where I can set my own boundaries, and I'm just starting to feel more human again.
Our family's phrase for this is "happy sloth." It's tough for me to achieve because I tend to focus on all the stuff I wish I was getting done. But when I'm able to let go of all that stress and mellow out a bit, it's much better for everybody.