Sunday, April 4, 2010

Running On Empty

Stealing a line and subsequent song from Jackson Browne is not beneath me.  Especially when the line and song seem so appropriate to a theme that has run (don’t excuse the pun) through the course of my life.

In my youth I loved to run.  I was never the most fleet of foot, but I could move with rapid acceleration.  My first 3 steps were as quick as a whip, moving to top speed in an instant.  I could also run with endurance, especially if I was chasing a soccer ball, or running a football pattern or being the lead on a basketball fast break.  There was a thrill to running and I often ran for the joy of feeling the wind rush past my ears.  It was a simple pleasure.

Recently, I ran for about 40 yards and was delighted to feel that rush again.  I haven’t run much lately due to a severe illness that laid me bed-ridden.  Forty yards and I was giddy like a kid.

I have been running for most of my life.  Not just literally, but internally, psychically as well.  I could not get away from whatever I was running from fast enough.

For the longest time I had a recurring dream where I was being chased and where I was running, running, running.  I was being chased and could not run fast enough.  It felt like running underwater, but where underwater running is an external force disabling speed the force holding me back was internal.

My brain knew that I could run faster but my body wouldn’t respond.  My muscles would not reach their potential no matter how forcefully my will imposed itself on them.

In all this my pursuer was indefatigable in its chase.  I could sense it behind me, never really gaining, but not losing the trail. 

The chase was the object of my tormentor.  It never caught me.  The stalker seemed only to desire to terrorize me by engaging in a chase that never seemed to end.  A marathon that never had a finish line, but left me exhausted and rendered me overwrought in my fatigue that I was unable to feel rested upon awaking.

It felt like I was running on empty.  I had no internal resources with which I could garner effort.  No reserve of energy to supplement my lack of empty shell.  No will to catalyze action.  I was at the end of myself.

In real life I think I have been a runner from internal realities that have sought to destroy my sense of self.  This is a major theme in my life and I think it is one that I will continue to explore as I write my story.

Jackson Browne captures some of my feelings in his song, “Running On Empty.”  Here are the lyrics:
Or follow the link to watch the video:

Looking out at the road rushing out under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know then that road turned into the road I’m on

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
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

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’ d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind

(c) 1977 Swallow Turn Music

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