Overheating – A Primer

The first image that comes to my mind when I’m thinking about overheating is an engine. An engine in a car, to be more precise.

And to be even more precise than that, it’s a Dacia 1310 engine, in a an actual Dacia 1310, a blue ciel one. That was my first car ever. It drove this while I was in my early thirties and I still remember how it was overheating because some thermostat contact was faulty (and, for some reason, couldn’t be properly fixed).

More often than not it was happening in the middle of a busy intersection. A cloud of white steam was starting to escape the body, from the front, obscuring my view and, obviously, forcing me to stop. I used to carry at least 8 liters of water with me, just to replace the liquid I was losing from the expansion tank.

So, just in the middle of the busiest intersection possible, pull over and off you go, Dragos, lifting the trunk and starting to replace the lost water, under the amused looks of the passing by drivers. When they weren’t amused, though, they were laughing their assess out, which was understandable. I must have looked like a vintage movie. The clown and his car.

Anyway, fast forward 20 years and I’m avoiding cars as much as I can, but only after driving more than 10 different brands, from low guard sport beauties to fancy SUVs. None of them was overheating anymore, but the first lessons from my blue ciel Dacia 1310 are still with me.

And they are applying to humans now, not to engines.

Here are the 4 rules of overheating for humans, in a short and sweet primer.

Rule Number One: It Will Happen At Some Point

No matter how prepared we are, life will sooner or later throw something at us. Something that would be really difficult to tackle without a lot of effort and energy. In this process, some of our cooling mechanisms will be short-circuited, and we will start to blow steam, just like my faulty thermostat contact was always blowing steam after a certain point.

Going forward believing “it won’t happen to me, I’m always conscious and I can nudge anything” it’s not a very clever way to go around. We can barely control 1 meter around of our physical surrounding, we have a limited memory, limited sensors and a very variable emotional state. So we’re vulnerable. Let’s accept this. Let’s wake up every day knowing that, sooner or later, we may stumble upon something that’s simply too difficult for our current setup. It’s ok.

Rule Number Two: It Will Be Uncomfortable

When this hits, it will be nasty. But not nasty in the doom and gloom way, more like uncomfortable. The same type of uncomfortable I was experiencing while looking at the other drivers passing me by. Sometimes life we’ll stop you in its tracks and it will feel like you aren’t making any progress at all. Expect this. That’s how overheating it’s supposed to work.

Accept the uncomfortable, and when people are laughing at you because you just pulled over and started mending the wreck of a life you’re having, do exactly as I was doing while replacing the liquid in my expansion tank, surrounded by small clouds of vaporized water: smile and wave.

Rule Number Three: Be Prepared And Start The Cool Off As Soon As Possible

This goes hand in hand with the one above: do start amending your life when it’s overheating. Don’t assume it will pass. I mean, it will pass, but if you just keep pushing forward, with your faulty thermostat contacts continuously triggering trouble, this will surely create way more damage for very little return.

So do the necessary, which, in this specific case may mean just stop and chill for a change. Cool off. Lower the friction. Decrease the energy expenditure. Recharge. Refill.

Rule Number Four: Go To Rule Number One

Seriously. That’s how it works.

Photo by Buzz Andersen on Unsplash

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