Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Harvest the Power, 2nd Edition: A Lay Leadership Development Program for Adults

Handout 2: Burnout – A Misnomer

For Workshop 4, Caring for Ourselves and One Another, Alternate Activity 2, Burnout – a Misnomer

By Ric Masten (1929–2008), a Unitarian Universalist poet, folk singer and minister. In Ric Masten Speaking (Watsonville, CA: Paper Mache Press, 1990). Used with permission.


you’ve seen the results

in the shop on the shelf

row after row of grey empty faces

with nothing happening in the glassy eyes


a little surface reflection


you know the symptoms

a history of dependable service

then suddenly for no reason things go dark

and you’re a dead piece of furniture


to be removed from the living room


the psychological repairman said

and shrugged and shook his head

having checked everything

except the cord

which of course

was disconnected

in a word “unplugged”

and to think

i nearly went to the dump myself

because someone less than a poet

trying to describe a condition

came up with a misleading term


a case of burnout demands a second opinion

and this is mine

find an outlet

and if the cord doesn’t reach

move the set