The problem is that I consistently underestimate the strength of the pull between the mental and physical, the way that link vibrates and tugs. I don't really do enough each day to justify an exhaustion, so I must not be entitled to exhaustion that day. But the thing about an academic life is that work is never done. No matter how much work gets done, it's not enough work. (A problem that all too often leads me to think I might as well not bother at all.) Each day, even the days during which you know you will not work, you have this nagging feeling that work is the only thing that deserves your time. This is, of course, bunk. But that's not the point. After weeks and months of feeling that pull every day, my body starts to register it in the way I walk around and the way I talk to people. The consistency of it starts to vibrate and make things fuzzy. My brain is using my body to tell me that it's time to let up a little, walk away, think about other things for a while.
It's a nice idea. The problem with the constant pull on that cord is that even when you stop pulling, it twitches like a phantom limb. It often takes me more than a week to stop feeling it and believe with my body as well as my brain that it's time to relax. That week is not this one. This is the week I grade mid-terms so that my students can take a look at them before they take the finals that I will then grade. (Whoever arranged the university schedule this semester really messed the whole thing up.) I need to revise a conference paper and write a few things for my advisor to read while I'm at my conference. In short, the cord that twitches and nags and makes me exhausted is more of a web right now, a million sticky fingers that's got me bound and trapped. I want to snap them all and walk away into the fields, but they'd just plaster themselves to my hair and eyelids. There's nothing to be done, so I'll dance in my web. I'll spin and twirl and hope that, eventually, the academic spider with its very long legs gets tired, too, and puts this semester to bed.