Messenger Cover: Burning Out

If you really want to waste some time on the internet one of the best ways to do so is to point your web browser to YouTube. Depending on your taste, you can find plenty of entertaining time wasters. With a simple Google search you can discover the latest cute cat video or a humorous video of someone who thinks they are a better dancer than they really are, or, even better, the video record of someone’s massive lack of wisdom or common sense. Falling into the last cate- gory is something called an “epic hardcore burnout” which involves someone in a rear-wheeled vehicle standing on the gas and brake pedals at the same time to get their drive wheels spinning in place. When you do this long enough smoke ensues and some rubber is laid down on the road. When you do it even longer, smoke may envelope the rear of the vehicle as the tires keep spinning in place. When you push it to epic, hardcore levels, you stand on both pedals long enough to shred the tire and generate sparks as the tire rims grind into the asphalt. If you have someone record it and upload it to Youtube, you will likely get a ridiculous amount of views to compensate you for the destruction of your tires and rims and the doubts raised about your common sense.

When I first saw one of these videos I thought, “How could someone do some- thing do dumb?” And then I remembered that growing up in the wintery north- east corner of Ohio we sometimes did something with our cars in the winter snow that some people might consider questionable. After or during a good snow, we would take the car up to the church or school parking lot before it had been plowed and do “donuts.”

This involved turning the steering wheel hard right or left and gunning the accelerator expecting the car to slide in the fresh snow. Hold the accelerator and steering wheel long enough and you will do a 360. The beauty was that if you did it in the center of the parking lot you would avoid hitting anything (most of the time) and have a chance to practice steering out of a skid at the end. Looking back with the clarity and wisdom that only age can bring, I realize now that doing donuts in the snow with the car was pretty dumb so I can’t give the folks who try these epic hardcore burnouts too hard a time.

Back in the fall, Pastor Mike sent some of us on the staff a video link to one of these epic, hardcore burnouts and suggested that it made a great metaphor for how many of us live our lives. And he was absolutely right. Many of us push the limits of our time, money, health and relationships to ridiculous levels while working at cross purposes to our stated goals – which results in no forward pro- gress and the damage or destruction of the very resources that enable us to live a life of purpose and joy. Sure, you can create a lot heat, smoke and sparks but you’re not going anywhere. Keep your metaphorical feet on the metaphorical brake and gas pedals long enough and you end up hurting yourself and the peo- ple you love. The resulting damage may include a drop in job performance, health problems, ruined families and relationships, depression and dissatisfac- tion with life. Psychologists and other analysts of the human condition call this “burnout.” Chances are, you have experienced this if you have lived life long enough.

When you think about it, inflicting such damage to ourselves and the people around us makes about as much sense as planting our feet on gas and brake pedal of our cars and shredding our tires down to the rims.

-Rev. John Bletsch