Burning out is associated with people who work ridiculously long hours. Sleep deprived workaholics are inevitably going to crash at some point. Demanding fast paced jobs make chronic stress an inevitable part of modern life. It might be a bit melodramatic to say that either you commit to this destructive style of life and have success, or you go nowhere. But few people seem to believe balance and contentment is achievable.

Combustion from over working in such a stereotypical fashion doesn’t apply to me. My lifestyle doesn’t allow for it. Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll need to attend to deadlines and commit to a desk (I spend relatively few hours here in my present set-up), but for now I’m content to travel and explore other options.

Despite this, I still crash.

I had a mug which said ‘You can take the lass out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the lass’. The same principle I think applies for the underlying drive is that eventually results in me ending up as fragile embers. I can take myself away from high intensity situations that could stereotypically be blamed for my combustion, but such environments truly only exacerbate inherent tendencies.

Left alone I still go up in flames.

It doesn’t really matter where I am or what I’m doing. My brain is going to latch onto more problems than I can reasonably hope to handle. It’s going to make those problems appear vital to my sense of identity, and then, when elegant solutions hide, it’s going to become overwhelmed.

Physics is attractive because it provides beautiful solutions to problems. However, I’m in the blind spot of physics, somewhere on the scale between the single atom and the entire galaxy. The understanding I crave is both scientific and emotional. I don’t have industry funding or a super computer; my total processing power is one loopy human brain. My laboratory is my life. I make assumptions that make a frictionless surface seem logical.

My small brain goes between helpful answers, like ‘42’, and answerable questions like, ‘why do I feel upside down?’. Since this is my thinking pattern, it’s incredible I’m not more flammable.

I shouldn’t underestimate my brain. Its resilience is remarkable. I’ve got to admire its ability to keep fighting, even if it’s failing to land a single punch. The bell rings, I wipe the sweat from my brow and then turn back to the ring for another round. Simultaneously it’s eyed up the fire-escapes for a swift exit. I flail between fight or flight in an exhausting state of paralysis.

Do I over analyse and therefore over complicate my life? Or does my analysis simply make me aware of problems that would have existed regardless? I’m the scientist asking for more funding, more research is needed but I’m not sure that someone wiser might not see that the truth is right in front of me. I feel the answer writhing within reaching distance, but I just can quite get a grip.