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Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Wednesday Spotlight: Beverly Rae
Running on Empty
Someone recently asked me what the phrase “running on empty” meant. I gave them the usual answer. Running on empty means your car has very little gas left, hopefully, just enough to make it to the next gas station. The car is thought to be out of gas and miraculously still moving from fumes alone. That’s the answer most people would’ve expected. However, there are other ways to be running on empty.
I’ll give you some examples.
Susan, a mom of five children is asked (by phone) to babysit for her friend’s unruly toddler. Cringing, she puts a smile on her face and answers, “Sure!” Although she can barely stand up, she greets the neighbor at the door and welcomes the snotty-nosed, sour-pussed little tyke into her already loud brood. Instead of letting her exhaustion overtake her and going postal on her friend, she waves her off, takes a steadying breath, turns to face the squabbling children and draws strength from within. Susan is running on empty.
John, a husband, father and manager for a local supermarket chain, finishes up his ten hour shift, climbs into his twenty-year-old car and lets out a sigh. Maybe, just maybe, if he hits all the lights just right and doesn’t stop the car, he can make it home before the car breaks down – again. He pulls out of the parking lot, makes the first three lights in perfect synchronization and only has one more light to go. Suddenly he remembers that his wife asked him to bring home a gallon of milk. With a groan and the knowledge that he’ll have to ask someone to jump his car, he pulls into the next convenience store parking lot. John is running on empty.
I made it through yet another night of insomnia. Fortunately, that usually means I have extra time to write. Unfortunately, however, not everything I write while dead tired is worthy of keeping in the book. Any book. So, instead of going to sleep – finally! – I rev up the engine on the fumes of my non-existent internal “gas” and trudge through the following day, revising, writing, and plotting. I am running on empty.
I wish I had turned to the person who’d asked me the question and asked one of my own. “Now that you know what running on empty means, answer me this. Why the heck do we do it?”
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