I have just gone through a week at work that just weared me down. It was not because I was doing anything that pushed my mental capacities to the red line or demanded any notable physical exertion. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a period where nothing happened and I was reduced to marking time. The week initially promised to be one of some activity where our team was to be performing an important experiment, manning our stations around the clock. Yet just a day before I was set to begin my shifts, a critical piece of equipment in the experiment failed. However, I was still asked to be present to monitor the remaining systems for alarms.
So, I sat alone in that isolated room all day for four straight days with most of the equipment either in sleep mode or turned off altogether. I brought some work from my office to keep myself busy, but without access to all of my stuff, it was not a particularly efficient environment for progress. As I went home at the end of each shift, I felt like I had just wasted the day. Nothing meaningful or productive accomplished by any measure but one. There have been several utterly dark periods in my life where I couldn't bear to face the day ahead. In those times I longed to go into a state of hibernation or suspended animation. A day that went by that I missed would have been just fine with me. So that fact that I was frustrated to be missing out on living and embracing meaningful activity was a wonderful bit of perspective.