Burned Out

Note: This post was on my myspace blog and written during a work day a few weeks back.

Yesterday I read about a college football player who quit his team. He was a highly sought after player coming out of high school and had the elite programs recruiting him. As a freshmen, he saw time on the field and made some amazing hits. 

I was excited about this guy because he played for my favorite team. But he quit because, as I’ve been told, he was “burned out” on football.

I can’t blame him. I remember feeling the same way about football when I was in high school. I also felt it at times for basketball and golf because I had played them since I was so young that I can’t even remember the first time I played any of them. I quit two of them my senior year of high school because I was simply burned out.

Burned out. What a phrase. When we say that are we saying it was the flame itself that burned up everything we had to give to something? Or was it that the very flame that led me to physically push myself simply had no more fuel to burn?

He’ll look back in regret at being burned out just as I do. But it’s odd because we can’t live in the past, so even if we could go back and change it, we’d still be in the present. It would simply be a memory. And a memory is nothing more than a function in your brain that recreates the exact chemical composition you had at the moment of the memory. So when I “remember” I am basically just commanding my brain to create that chemical cocktail so I can relive an event that isn’t happening right now. So we can live in the past, but only in our minds.

Some things in life only matter when they are in our minds. After all, our minds are the genesis for everything we do in life. But your mind cannot “produce” an experience. It can provide a memory of one as in the movie Total Recall where a company actually gave people the “memory” of a nice vacation so that they wouldn’t have to take the time to actually experience it. In case you don’t remember, in the movie, a company called Recall Incorporated provided Arnold’s brain with the recipe for the chemicals that would make him think he had done something. And, according to the movie, if you think you did it, then you may as well have actually experienced it.

We can argue the philosophy of that concept all we want, but the bottom line is if it were possible to be given a fake memory, it wouldn’t change the fact that the memory itself was not based on an actual experience. And, therefore, it wouldn’t be an actual “memory” because there would be nothing to remember. And for me, that would remove the fun or sense of fulfillment that the “memory of a vacation” was supposed to provide Arnold and the imaginary people the movie presented.

That’s why memories are important to us–they aren’t fairy tales! They are events that belong to that recording mechanism in our minds. They are history, not fantasy.

That’s why he’ll regret, as I, being burned out in the past. Because memories serve as the history for our lives and even if we want to feel good by saying that yesterday is gone and all that matters is today, we have a built in objection to that philosophy. The past does matter to us whether we want to be truthful with ourselves or not. It matters because we build on it. Because love can grow from having a history with someone. Because we learn from it. And because it helps us understand ourselves.

Sure, I look to the future. I am constantly growing, trying new things, feeling the excitement of coming experiences and trying not to judge the future by the past. At the same time I’m living for the present and trying to stay in the moment instead of looking down the future’s winding road.

And now we’re back to the answer that I continually find to be true–it’s all about balance. And sometimes wild passion is a perfect balance just as occasionally boredom is a straight line on the pendulum. Balance keeps us renewed, refreshed and refocused. It is life’s way of keeping us from being burned out on…….life itself.

Now if you’ll excuse me (or not), I’m bored with this and am going to get the balance that can only be described as “fresh air.” I’ll probably toss some football with some buddies, so if you are in cubical 2 or 5 I’ll see you in a few minutes.