The Peace of Exhaustion

“There is a seasonal exhaustion in the air.”  John Hay  from Poor Will’s Almanack 2010

Here in northwest Pennsylvania, John Hay’s description really rings true in November.  The land is utterly worn out from another season of budding, growing, blooming, fruiting, and going to seed. The trees are bare. The wildflower seedheads are brown and bedraggled on their stalks. The grass has stopped growing. Having given itself over completely to the tasks of spring, summer, and fall, the edge of earliest winter brings a sense of completion, exhaustion, and peace.

Peace. This is the same sort of  peace that comes from doing all you can, to the best of your ability at the time, knowing that your limits have been reached and that the outcome is in the hands of powers greater than your own (fate, God, the Universe, whatever…)  You are spent. 

Nature, when it has reached such a peace, sinks into the sleep of winter’s sweet oblivion. Time for the long nap. Pull the sap to the roots, and forget about blooming for a while. Sleep. Dream. Rest. Go underground. Burrow.

So many times, when we reach our personal limits and have done all that we could do in any given situation, instead of sinking into a time of rest, we continue to push ourselves. We second guess. We judge our work inadequate, and beat ourselves up over our perceived shortcomings. Enough already. 

The apple trees here in northwest Pennsylvania don’t always produce a bumper crop. Sometimes they have an off year, because of circumstances (aka weather) beyond the tree’s control.  Even so, come November, they too pull the sap to the roots and sink in for a winter’s rest. No second guessing. No self-critical, “I should have grown more apples!”  No shoulds. No oughts. Just exhaustion, peace and rest. 


are you exhausted and spent?


did you do the best you could at the time?


Okay. Then enough self-criticism.  Be like November. Pull your sap (energy) to your roots (your deep self) and settle in for some down time. Rest. Sleep. Dream.

Photo Credit:  flickr user anslatadams at

About Rebecca

Natural spirituality writer, deep thinker, mom of 3, adjunct professor, resident of Earth
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One Response to The Peace of Exhaustion

  1. Cleyre says:

    I really needed to hear this– I have been running on my last fumes as if it were midspring and acting surprised when I need to go to bed at eight.

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