Drifting in and out of a sleep, I woke with a start as the wheels touched the tarmac of the runway at Bristol Airport. Disorientated by the doze, I was not sure of the day, nor where I was going.
There was no reason for the tiredness, I had only worked until lunchtime and had travelled to Dublin Airport at a leisurely pace in the afternoon. However, such moments seem more common in the past year. Feeling inordinately exhausted by late afternoon is familiar.
The weariness does not arise from a lack of fresh air. I walk five or six miles in a typical day. Trying to use the car as little as possible, I tend to walk anywhere that is less than three miles, and catch the bus to anywhere that is further. I get odd looks from children in the classroom when I am asked how I get to school and I say that I spend thirty-five minutes walking there. ‘Why do you do that, sir, if you have a car?’
Sometimes, I think that being tired may arise from an inability to relax. Living alone for the first time in my life, I have realized that starting out on a solitary life at the age of sixty-one has little to commend it. Being a very selfish person, I have struggled with the fact that there is no-one to whom to talk about the trivia of daily existence, no-one with whom to share the difficulties of the day, no-one to whom to turn for a smile or a word of encouragement. Added to which, I work as much as possible because it is the most efficacious way of dealing with the depression that drifts in like thick mist if there is nothing to dispel it.
Of course, it could just be that I am sixty-one.
My right shoulder has been troublesome for more than a decade and now lets me know with jolts of pain that I am probably succumbing to the arthritis to which my family is prone (an uncle who is sixteen years older than me has had both shoulders and both knees replaced, and is now on his third hip replacement).
Sometimes, my right hand seems similarly arthritic, as do other joints. Kneeling to pick up sheets of paper from behind the copier on Wednesday, I was only able to stand upright again by pulling myself up with my hands. Descending the stairs on the bus can bring pains in the hips.
Perhaps the solitary life simply allows more time for the mind to dwell on the things that are wrong. Perhaps the tiredness is simply a consequence of working harder.