I have been a fan of Jackson Browne since the early 70’s. One of his hit songs in my senior year of high school was “Running on Empty”. There are many comparisons this songs makes with everyday life, I will briefly discuss 3 of them.
“I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on.”
The early years of life are filled with so much adventure and at the same time confusion. Trying to understand what we want, what we believe and establishing our independence can put a very stable person on overload. Brene’ Brown sums up this period of time in her quote about vulnerability, “Vulnerability is having the courage to show up, when you can’t control the outcome.” Jackson paints the picture so well of a young man or woman running to something, unsure of the direction and the destination simultaneously. Maybe the first step in this process should be, if you don’t know where you are heading, just stop for a moment and look around. For those that have passed this stage, have compassion for young people that find themselves in this maze of indecision. All of us have been guilty of going nowhere fast in our lives at one time.
“I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on.”
I once heard a great story told by Chuck Swindoll about being lost, I will paraphrase it for time sake. Have you ever been on a walk, a drive or an adventure that captivated all your attention. Maybe, on one these adventures you awaken from your haze and realize you don’t know where you are? At this point everything goes blank and you turn all focus on orienting your location. The same things you were walking or driving by and enjoying all look pale, you experience this sudden anxiety and can think of nothing else but finding out where you are. Maybe during these times of being lost we see a more detailed picture of just how precarious life can be, even in the beautiful moments. If you have ever drove off the side of the road, you understand how the title of this section can happen, and happen quickly.
“I look around for the friends that I used to turn to, to pull me through, looking into their eyes I see them running too.”
The road of life is a race to something, that might be the biggest thing we must figure out. What is that something? I find in this race we call life, it is far too easy to take credit for the successes and pawn off the failures. If you are looking to friends to help you, this is understandable, but they cannot run the race for you. When I was in the Marine Corps, the most exhausting runs both mentally and physically were the formation runs (running in larger groups). You never knew what pace would be set for the run, people around you didn’t always keep up well so you would fall behind and then sprint to get back in place. Is it possible this happens in our lives today? Running on empty might take place because too many of us try to run someone else’s pace? Could it be in the exuberance of youth we have passion without knowledge while the ladder part of life we possess the knowledge but have lost the exuberance and passion to finish strong? If you find yourself “Running on Empty” it might be time to revisit the exuberance and innocence of our youth and refocus on the goal we are running toward. We are all empty at different parts of our lives, this just leaves room to fill ourselves with the things we need to finish the race.