“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
– Psalm 139:23-24
In 1982, Midnight Oil released 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 which many argue is their finest album. The song, Only the Strong captures a little of how some of us might feel now.
When I’m locked in my room, I just want to scream
And I know what they mean (One more day of eating and sleeping)
Speak to me, speak to me, I’m not spoken for, I’m ready to talk
Look at me, look at me, I’ve been broken up and shaken down
Speak to me, speak to me, I’m at the edge of myself I’m dying to talk
Look at me, won’t you look at me, back once more at the point of no return
When I’m locked in my room, I just want to scream,
And I know what they mean, Only the strong
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the feeling of ennui. The other day in an article in The Conversation, I came across another word that captures a similar sense of how we might be feeling: acedia. It was coined and written about in the 5th century by a monk called John Cassian. He described it as a feeling of listlessness, being worn out despite not having exerted himself, sad at no one coming to see him and not being able to read or quiet his mind. In other words, too tired to be active, too tired to be still, just tired.
It seems that in different ways, the Oils and John Cassian are describing feelings that resonate with our situation.
As The Conversation article puts it, “Learning to express new or previously unrecognised constellations of feelings, sensations, and thoughts, builds an emotional repertoire, which assists in emotional regulation. Naming and expressing experiences allows us to claim some control in dealing with them.” Our job as parents and as teachers is to keep building our emotional repertoire and encouraging children in our care to do the same.