Monday Column: The mental fatigue

Opinion Sunday 12/March/2023 20:00 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday Column: The mental fatigue

I was about to delete an email message when something about the subject made me pause. It said ‘tired’ and I looked at the sender’s address but it did not mean anything to me. I was almost sure it was one of the junks I receive all the time or even a virus that would infect my computer.

After a few seconds, I decided that I would make an exception to this strange mail. I opened it and the first paragraph urged me to read on. It was a mini autobiography that was written in about four thousand words. I read it slowly and purposefully because this was no fiction but a story of a man who died and reborn seven months later. The man, at the prime of his youth, saw his life shattered in a thousand pieces. In one moment of weakness, he put on hold his entire existence instead of simply placing his foot on the brakes of his car.

He woke up seven months later in a hospital, surrounded by nurses and doctors, wondering what the fuss was all about. He could not speak, walk or react to anything meant for him. Fours years now, the man has got back some of his essential faculties. However, in his own words, he is a “shell” of the man he once was. Looking back, there are a few things he could have done but life must go on. He is still unable to walk or do things that he used to do but he now never takes anything for granted.  He would not have found out that how much his family cared for him. He has learned to adapt to his new life rather than descend deep into self-pity. He even said that he was “glad” that the accident had happened otherwise he would not have made new friends. When I finished reading the email, I wondered if it was really meant for me or it just found its way accidentally to my inbox. It was signed off by a name that was not familiar to me. It did not matter.

The message was clear that no matter what life hands to you, the world still evolves around and you need to move forward with it. The irony is that you and I do not have to go through a nightmare to realise what we are missing. We take for granted little things like walking to the kitchen to make a cup of tea or kicking a ball. As we do them, we never stop for a minute to think about it. It may take years to realise that a set of routine that you rather forget was essential to your life.

When I was ten years old, I used to wonder why an old neighbour used to rearrange his pots of plants every morning. He would then sit on a chair in his backyard looking at them while drinking tea from his old tin mug.  I realised years later that he used to be a successful trader who worshipped his business.  He never had the time to do anything else. In his retirement, he found pleasure in doing “little things” that he missed while busy earning a living.

The anonymous email message told me that it takes only a moment of weakness to turn your life upside down. It does not have to be a car accident but a long routine packed with haste, stress and the dash to make things happen can contribute to a single error that would throw you in turmoil. Sometimes, to take a back seat in the rush hour is what you need to avoid breaking into pieces.