I am willing to go out on a limb and say that most of you have never heard of the infamous “Newman’s Energy Machine.” There was a lot of hype about Newman’s perpetual energy machine in 1979 and 1980. I’m no physicist, but the bottom line was that Joe Newman claimed the contraption produced more energy than was required to run it, making it the consummate perpetual motion machine. He applied for numerous patents, and both the U.S. Patent Office and the National Bureau of Standards rejected it. Despite all of his grandstanding and show-boating, Joseph Newman was found to be completely unrealistic.
The idea of a perpetual motion machine, one that forever maintains its momentum, has eluded humans since the dawn of time. It may be possible, but not here on planet earth. There’s a funny truth about momentum: even the most finely tuned machine winds down, even the machine with the best mechanics or design breaks.
The Garage Refrigerator
Not long ago, we put our 27-year-old refrigerator out to pasture. We kind of took it for granted out there in the garage. It was our equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, in a state of constant freezing and cooling: Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter hams, Birthday cakes, and the deviled eggs that were all too often forgotten until the holiday meal had ended.
We looked the other way, of course, when we chipped away its inefficient ice build-up or when the freezer motor began its clanking sound, but eventually, its momentum ceased. And I don’t understand things like “Energy Star” ratings either. Still I’m pretty sure our perpetual motion refrigerator, much like the Newman Energy Machine, lost the momentum and energy ratings of their youthful exuberance.
All of this perpetual motion and momentum talk has led me to think about us mere mortals and how we over-strive to maintain momentum.
In a constant effort to run our lives in perpetual motion, we humans are pretty good at ignoring the topic of momentum. We are often working or gathering too much without a break, we drink too much caffeine and energy drinks, we drive through our favorite fast food restaurant after five-hours of sleep, we take loads of supplements never really knowing what we’re taking, or some of us consume too much adult beverage.
And it’s not just our friends and families. More than a few athletes we know of have used performance enhancing drugs to keep up the momentum of their earlier seasons. Some try surgery and surgery to repair broken and torn tissue. Our movie and television stars have all sorts of operations to “push this up or pull that down,” to maintain the momentum of their youthful images.
We buy clothing to tighten us and improve our athletic efficiencies, we push our kids into constant training, we take courses and classes and hire virtual tutors to teach us to keep up the continuing momentum of our lives.
Get Some Rest
When do our machines finally say, “Enough is enough?” When do we eventually realize, “I need to rest?”
In no way do I suggest that we should not try to stay healthy, eat correctly or exercise. For all are important to sustain a good balance. However, in our quests to maintain the idealized momentum of our lives, we must also allow that we are indeed only human. We sometimes hurt; we sometimes need repair.
As we age, we can hike, but eventually slower; we can swim or run or even jump, but shorter or with more caution. We can move weights, but less or do modified pushups or play golf. Still we must also acknowledge that if the laws of physics apply to the momentum of perpetual motion machines or refrigerators, why would they somehow skip over us humans?
We must allow that it is not wrong to simply rest, to reflect and to understand that in trying to forever achieve momentum, we can actually do more harm than good.
I had a friend, an extremely athletic friend, who was quite angry at himself when he suffered illness or needed surgery. Why? Who promised him perpetual motion and never-ending disease resistance, strength or even health? Every single body, mechanical or physical, must have rest, renewal and repair. As a man of faith, I like the thought of a Sabbath, a day of rest and reflection. Why can’t we allow our physical beings the same luxury?
Momentum and movement are beautiful things, but so is sitting in an Adirondack chair, reflecting and realizing that your life is much more than a striving for everlasting fulfillment. Our lives must also be about peace and acceptance of what has passed and the blessings of what is to become. Let’s stop telling each other how busy we are. Sometimes we just need to slow down and breathe.