Spirituality of rest: in the beginning was fatigue…

” I can not stand it anymore ! » Acknowledged or not, explained or not, fatigue has become a lasting part of the life of modern societies. Of course, fatigue is nothing new. Isn’t it a universal phenomenon, at the crossroads of body and psyche, activity and work, individual and collective, meaning and nonsense, time and death?

In the human adventure, fatigue is always ” already there “ pointed out the philosopher Jean-Louis Chrétien, who had noticed that it precedes our awareness of it. (Tiredness) has always already been there, we have always already been caught up in it, we have always already had to carry it or suffer from it (…). For we were tired before saying I. We cannot grasp it as it arises, we are never contemporaneous with an inaugural fatigue. (1).

Pervasive fatigue

The fact remains that the current omnipresence of fatigue raises questions and, since the turn of the century, philosophers have considered it seriously. In Tired of being yourself (2), Alain Ehrenberg made an impression by linking contemporary fatigue to the powerful social injunction addressed to all individuals to invent themselves every day and to bear full responsibility for their choices. Postmodern fatigue would be the fruit of a pathology of freedom, the consequence of a hyper-responsibilization of individuals encouraged by the neoliberal economy.

In The Fatigue Society (2010), the German philosopher Byung-Chul Han attempted another reading, insisting on the self-subjugation of the individual, linked to the emergence of a “performance society”, free from all rules and prohibitions. Deprived of otherness, the individual would henceforth be installed in an affirmation of himself without limits, victim and executioner of himself until exhaustion. “The performing subject, exhausted, depressed, is at the same time worn out by himself. He is tired, exhausted from himself, from the war he is waging against himself. Unable to get out of himself, to be outside, to trust others, the world (…) », describes Byung-Chul Han (3).

“It’s as if the sun never sets”

Fatigue from exhaustion or fatigue from lassitude, physical fatigue or fatigue of a spiritual nature, fatigue suffered or with which the individual has a secret complicity, exhaustion has many faces but is always expressed in sighs, such as those meets the psychoanalyst Marie Balmary on a daily basis.

“People come into my office, sit down and it starts with a sigh. Then comes the realization that it’s been a long time since they took the time to stop to talk to someone, ” testifies the psychoanalyst, who wonders: “Was this already the case forty years ago? I’m not sure. Digital and screens have increased people’s level of fatigue. It’s as if the sun never sets! Non-rest is also linked to this feeling that there is always something to do, all the time, with these endless lists. And this feeling of being commanded, whether from inside or outside. »

Faced with the enslavement of our fatigue, entering into rest can be approached as a spiritual question in that it solicits our freedom. “Non-rest is a form of non-access to one’s soul, so to speak, tip Marie Balmary. It is the sign of a concern: what do we think we will find, what will come back for good or bad, if we stop? »

Making the decision to rest is a sign of our ability to enter a time of gratuitousness, to break routines to take another breath, from which something new can gently emerge: “Thus at each dawn, after the good sleep of a summer night, the flower of the water lily, immense sensitive of the waters, is reborn with the light, a flower thus very young, immaculate daughter of water and of the sun”, wrote Bachelard (4), illuminated by the promises of rest.


The quote

“Nothing is so intolerable to man as to be in complete repose, without passion, without business, without entertainment, without application. He then feels his nothingness, his abandonment, his insufficiency, his dependence, his impotence, his emptiness. »


Thoughts (#139)

Spirituality of rest: in the beginning was fatigue…