Monday, October 1, 2007

Running on Empty

1. It is too late.

2. It has been too late for some years.

3. No matter what you do in hopes of catching up, it will still be too late.

4. No one you know, in real or virtual worlds, cares, because so far as you can see, it is too late for them, too.

5. It has been too late for many of your closest friends and yet they all seem to handle the matter with uncommon grace, reminding you in more specific terms even than the terms used by Roxanne, the splendid and wonderful physical therapist who was assigned to you three years ago when you had hip-replacement surgery.

6. All these splendid people, for whom it is too late, going about their life with grace, not caring a whit that it is too late and has been for some years.

7. Your book reviews are technically due on Thursdays, but since you have a class from seven until nine forty on Thursdays, then have the hundred-mile drive home, Thursdays have become too late. Sometimes Sunday night will have to do. It does. It does quite well.

8. You used to envy persons who lived in a more rural atmosphere than you do because, you believed, they would have more leisure to do the things you wish to do.

9. It is too late for them, too, because they have what are euphemistically referred to as chores that they must do before they can address the sorts of things you hope to do.

10. No body cares. This has nothing to do with a lack of empathy or of interest. It has everything to do with grace, doing things even though it is too late.

11. We are all running on empty.

12. If you believed in blessings, running on empty would be a blessing because it is too late to get in the affectations and showing off. Oh, maybe a word or two, here and there, but there is, mercifully, not time for more.

13. You have attempted to convey this on occasion to students.

14. It is their nature not to care because they believe there is still time.

15. It is only when they understand there is no time that they begin to excel and publish and ask questions and make stunning connections.

16. Someone approaches you and says I don't know how you do it, to which you nod gravely (trying to cover a smile, lest they think you are having fun at their expense),

17. The secret, you tell them, is learning to run on empty.

18. I'm sorry, they tell you, I'm not a religious person.

19. It has nothing to do with that, you explain. There is no time for that, either.

20. Then where does it come from?

21. From you, running truly on empty.


Anonymous said...

Shelly, what a wonderful testimonial to faith. FAITH. Because there are most certainly days when one starkly knows she/he is running on empty, and succombs to the bleak hopelessness of it all.
So, you've just taught me that being a writer depends on keeping Faithful....
thanks for this!

Lori Witzel said...


*wipes tears from eyes*

Oh, goodness knows I needed that.

Yours most sincerely,
"I'm late, I'm running on fumes, I'm sorry"

R.L. Bourges said...

Shelly, I sort of lurk on your blog in the early morning while America sleeps and the sun rises over Europe. I read, ponder, chew on some of your wonderful posts. Then, I take care of my own and get on with the day. I've designated you as my writing class instructor. Not that you need to read my stuff or comment on it. What I mean by that is that your stuff inspires me to write my own variation on a theme. Today was: running on empty or, in my case, When Words fail. Thank you for that.

Jeremy James said...

Beautiful. Genius.