Why is it that
The more energy
You put into life
The more energy
You get out of it?

Shouldn’t it be
That the more
Energy we spend
The less we have?
Like emptying out
A bank account.
But somehow life
Doesn’t seem to
Work that way.

For example:
The longer I stay
In bed, the more
Tired I am,
Except when
I really do need
To have a rest.
(Like this morning
When I slept through
My pre-scheduled
Sun salutations.)
A paradox within
A paradox.

Perhaps energy
Really is a kind
Of fire, just like
My yoga teacher
Says it is.
Hard to start up
But once it gets
Going if you
Feed it steadily
It keeps burning.

The thing is
I’m scared of fire.
So maybe that isn’t
The best metaphor
For me. I like those
Long-handled lighters
That let us keep
The flames at a
Safe and reasonable
Distance. Right?

But even though
I’ve never made
A fire of my own,
I know the basics.
If you pile on too
Much fuel you will
Smother the flames
More is not more,
In this case at least.

So how do I know
When it’s better to
Do more and when
It’s better to relax?
When should I try
Harder? And when
Should I sit back
And allow for rest?

Shouldn’t I know
These answers by now?
I know they must be
Right under my
Nose. Probably.
Like a pair of bifocals –
Except the bottom
Glass is a metaphor
And the top glass
Doesn’t even exist.

Both fire and people
Need breath, and air –
Not just from time
To time: constantly.
So we have that in
Common even if
One of us is a
Terrifyingly hot
Chemical reaction
And the other is
A comparatively
Unadventurous and
Sleepy person.

What a miracle it
Would be to have
Exactly the energy
We need when we
Need it, without
Having to do all
That work in the
Meantime. Alas.
The sun salutations
Will not complete

Really, all I want
Is to know at all
Times that I am
Doing the right
Thing in the right
Way in the right
Outfit, alright?
I just want to
Know what is
True, without
Having to figure
It out for myself.
Or handle matches.

Note: I started this poem at midnight. It started from somewhere that felt rather serious and profound, but then turned into something increasingly silly, which was actually quite fun.

For what it’s worth, I did do my sun salutations on the morning in question, but that snooze button impulse is exactly where this poem came from.

It was earlier today that the phrase hit me, the more energy you put into life, the more you get out of it – something I was thinking about while contemplating my engagement with my ongoing insomnia plan. (The basic gist is – never sleep in, don’t take it easy if you’re tired, that’s the best way to build sleep drive. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is effective!)

It seems so unfair that the only way we can build our stamina and energy is by finding some way to do the things that seem impossibly exhausting when we don’t have them. The least we can do is have a sense of humour about the whole thing – in the end, it’s basically the human condition, isn’t it?

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash