Running Empty

05/17/2021 0 By BuddyCushman

If you’re older, like me, you probably remember the Jackson Browne song “Running on Empty”. It came to my mind in the recliner this morning, second cup of coffee dwindling, notebooks askew, and when the song arrived I knew through and through there was not a thing metaphoric about it.

These days (another Browne piece of music) I’m doing something I was forever doing in my 20’s and 30’s, well my 40’s and 50’s as well – Moving. Like the riding the bicycle thing, do it, learn it, it’s imprinted forever. Kind of comes naturally. Except, now, there are 72-year old muscles doing the packing and discarding, lugging and hauling, the recycling, up from the cellar, down from the second-floor, over from the studio, out to the down-the-street dumpster, out to the trunk of the car, the back seat, the passenger seat, all available floor space. Moving, moving, moving and the muscles having to move as well, though not with the grace of a, say, 27-year old. And certainly not with the strength and stamina, and no doubt there is scientific jargon to describe the dwindling capacity of a forearm or a tricep to do forearm and tricep things they once did, when life was maybe a bit more casual and recovery was a given, and not a wish.

Yesterday, by 7pm, I was exhausted. It had been building this last month and the big, big weary caught up after the after-dinner walk. Physically, emotionally, mentally….even spiritually. Not that my spirit has waned – no – because the truth is my spirit feels electric and attentive and, most of all, blessed. Like Gavin said the first afternoon through my tears – there will be bright edges to this darkness, Bro. Nah, last night I wasn’t tired to the point of falling down in the spirit. It was all the rest of it. And shit, I’ve had it pretty damn easy when we think of the troubles people can have and do have day in and day out.

But the birth certificate, that giddy old piece of paper signed sealed and delivered back in New Bedford, Massachusetts in January of ’49, it was the certificate having a chuckle at my expense, and everything hurt and there are dings and blood patches and scrapes and cuts and lower back screams and knee spasms and I barely see the tangible get-out progress though there’s been much, and the road – that great road Kerouac sung so sweetly of – the one which whispers “Get yourself up and at ’em, Brah, there’s a whole new world waiting, you could never even have imagined it, even with all your chronic daydreaming and your life of bouncing hither and thither.” That road seemed distant last night, far away, because I had come to the point where I was running on empty.

And, it’s cool. We gotsta do what we gotsta do, right, and the alarm went off at 4:35 this morning and I got up and prayed and sat and drank two and a half coffees and along the way Jackson Browne showed up – a little after the fact – and I wrote my Morning Pages – every single day since May 2011 – and I’ve been packing and lugging and went for a long walk and talked for a long time, twice, on the phone with two different people I have never met or spoken a word with before while on the dirt-between-the-trees walk. Because there’s a lot to it, including magic, and there’s a lot to do, and that road, which today sings just a little closer …..”Buddy…..”Buddy”,,,,,it’s waiting and so’s the industrial-sized jar of Ibuprofen.

I must be somebody’s baby.