- Thoughts for inspired living

June 30, 2008

Running on Empty

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:48 am

The1977 hit song; Running on Empty by Jackson Browne pretty much describes the hole in our soul and our attempt to fill it.

(by Jackson Browne)

Looking out at the road rushing 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 on

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 when that road turned onto 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 about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
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 even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind


The emptiness he sings about is not the emptiness the ancients encouraged us to seek. The emptiness he describes is an unquenchable thirst. This emptiness follows a recipe of constant wanting; the other is a prescription for everlasting peace. Reminds me of a story . . .

My wife from another life had a coveted recipe for margaritas. Everyone loved them. She got the recipe 30 years ago from a bartender at a place called THE LOBSTER POT in Kansas City. He explained to her the key difference was that the ones he made were made with real lemon juice, not lime juice. She whipped up a batch and the rest is history. Everyone wanted the recipe.*

The difficulty arose when others made them. They did not taste the same. Upon further investigation, they were either missing an ingredient or another ingredient was substituted. The ones who followed the recipe to the letter got the real deal. Those who improvised got something different.

The emptiness that can’t be filled is what human beings feel. The logical thing seems to find something to fill this empty space. No one told us our container is a mental colander. It profusely leaks our fuel and we always want more. The recipe of constant wanting and consuming will never fill us up. This type of wanting leads to psychological gluttony. The more we consume, the emptier we feel.

The culture we live in supports this artificial method of tanking up. Everywhere you turn, the culture reminds you that the answer to your dilemma is something outside of you – this car, this house, this vacation, this lover, this lifestyle, this pill, etc.

These sought after things are wonderful accents to our life but can never be substituted for real life.

Real life is finding the emptiness out of which all things spring. Some refer to it as the “Void.” The writings of Lao Tzu refer to it as the “Tao.” Jesus called it “The Kingdom of Heaven.” The name is unimportant; the state of being is essential to feel the fullness of life.

You won’t find this fullness in a book or in a philosophy. They can only point the way. Tasting the real thing begins when we calm our mental noise and give attention to the feelings that show up in our body. This two step process will have you running on authentic empty.

Step one is allowing the story in your mind to calm down. It’s once removed from your pain and will perpetuate your psychological emptiness as long as you keep the story in place.

Step two is to fully feel the emotions that accompany this painful human emptiness. Pain is a pathway to peace. Paying attention to the feelings in your body is physical acknowledgement of your emotional state.

This recipe allows your true emptiness to metabolize the pain making room for the fullness of life.

All the best,


*Margarita Recipe

1 part tequila

1 part sugar water (Sugar water is made with 1 cup of sugar to 3 cups of water)

¾ part triple sec

¾ part lemon juice (Minute Maid 100% pure lemon juice)

P.S. Not responsible for the crazy behavior of anyone who drinks these concoctions.

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