Keep still

Other than waking up enough for presents on Christmas Eve and dinner on Christmas Day, I’ve been sleeping since Little Christmas Eve. I have been exhausted since submitting my PhD thesis. Bone-weary. This passage from The Left Hand of Darkness resonates with me right now.

A physician came and said to me, ‘Why did you resist dothe?’

‘I was not in dothe,’ I said. ‘I was in a sonic field.’

‘Your symptoms were those of a person who has resisted the relaxation phase of dothe.’ He was a domineering physician, and made me admit at last that I might have used dothe-strength to counter the paralysis while I rowed [across the bay], not clearly knowing that I did so; then this morning, during the thangen phase when one must keep still, I had got up and walked and so nearly killed myself.

— from Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

I used ‘dothe’ — described as ‘hysterical strength’ in the novel, or the intentional harnessing of adrenaline to push through exhaustion — to get through these last few months. But pushing through on adrenaline has its cost. Now I am in the thangen phase and I must keep still.

I’m still baffled that I more-or-less slept through Christmas and that even going up the stairs or taking a shower leaves me tired. It looks like I’ve borrowed against January’s spoons,* and I need to rest a while. I may need to rethink my plans for January. I had planned a series of posts about Christmas and Ebenezer, but I am too tired to write them. Instead, you get this post about my exhaustion and The Left Hand of Darkness.

Which, if you want to read a long, but interesting, interview with Ursula K. Le Guin that includes talking about The Left Hand of Darkness, you can read this one from The Paris Review.

And, fun fact, I have read twenty-four (24) out of thirty-four (34) of Le Guin’s fiction for adults. (She’s prolific: non-fiction, children’s fiction, poetry… I haven’t touched those yet.)

* ‘Spoons?’ You ask. I refer you to The Spoon Theory.

One thought on “Keep still

  1. Megan says:

    I know it may seem strange or even a shame, but I think that’s fair. You just submitted your gosh darn PhD thesis. Sleep. Wake up, eat. Enjoy what you can, converse, love your parents, be loved by them. Sleep more.


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