When I hear it in my head, though, it sounds like it does in the parts of America where it comes out “Tarred. Ah'm tarred.”
“Ah'm tarred” brings me a picture, likely from John Ford's movie version of 'The Grapes of Wrath.” Dust and dirt piled on top of the simple presence of fatigue... tarred.
Yet, it also brings about a sense of tired that initially seems to be 180 degrees from tarred, yet, to me, it is not.
I once played a part in a production of Tom Stoppard's amazing play, “Rosenkrantz and Guildernstern are Dead.” At one point one of the lead players review the space around him and the other players in it and declares himself “Wary as a lizard.”
Only, he couldn't do it. This particular actor couldn't say wary as it should have been said but had pretty much nailed his pronunciation of weary. A line designed to declare a character particularly on edge and looking for secrets, became a line proclaiming the character out of steam and looking for someplace to lay down.
If this were not an important point in the play, we could certainly have muffled the line, had someone cough over it, or otherwise color it in a way that would let audience members more or less get the gist. But it was an important moment, so every effort was made to get the pronunciation right. The actor was not stupid, au contraire. He had the part nailed. But as this wary/weary thing failed to be resolved, his confidence waned and we had bigger issues.
As only certain dogs will hear a certain pitch from a pipe, everyone in and around that moment finally decided they heard the dog whistle, the message from which was, “The heck with it. Act like he said something close to correct and then move on.”
Amongst a couple of my friends, “Weary as a lizard” came to mean a type of fatigue that defies understanding. And that's where I am now. I am tired. Tarred. Wary. Weary.
The struggle that is going on right now, which may in fact be at the base of this feeling “Weary as a lizard,” is this: It's the fight between what's true and matters versus what's true and matters right now.
I can't help it that the laundry needs to be done... again, and I'm the only one, from a practical standpoint, that can do it. I don't have the energy right now! Same with taking the trash to the dump. I know it needs to be taken. I know that for a fact. What I cannot do, is work up the desire to make taking the trash to the dump seem like something that would be worth the effort.
The chest pains... the latest ones that I battle with now... I believe are caused by deep-seated stress. It happened when I was first put on chemo. We didn't know what the pain was about, but eventually realized it was caused by stress at a deeper lever.
That sort of pain is made up of a bunch of tricky little bastards. There you are all stalwart and bracing against the pain, when one of these little worries gets in a shot and scores a hit on your defense. The another and another. Pretty soon you've had three palpable hits, rendering pain, fatigue and stress and not one blow was worth even mentioning.
Ah'm tarred of having cancer. Ah'm tired of poor Sheri having to get around on only one good leg, never quite knowing what, if any movement, might set her recovery back. Ah'm tired of having to revisit problems I thought were already settled. We just got a bill for one of my chemotherapy medications that I had spent a fair amount of time making sure we wouldn't be billed for. So, back to the phones.
While being tarred is far from the worse thing, it does drain your soul... drop by drop, until you realize you're down a quart and that particular refill comes hard.
So, as I leave you for this week. That's where I am. Soul weary, or as my actor friend might say, soul wary.
There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere