I’m in the middle of a long list of errands when a chime dings inside the car. Short on time before I need to be across town to pick up the kindergartner from school, I glance at the dashboard and groan.
A tiny gas pump is illuminated beside the gauge that is currently hovering near a red line marked with a capital letter E. I make a quick mileage calculation. How much further can I drive before my vehicle will sputter and stall? Do I have to stop at a gas station or can I use that time to get another errand done?
Like my car, I often try to live life while running on empty. Pushing hard to finish just one more thing. Grudgingly stopping only when absolutely necessary. Putting just enough fuel in the tank to make it through the rest of the day. I live life in the bottom quarter of a tank while flirting with the real possibility of stalling out.
I really should know better. After all, I’ve lived with chronic fatigue syndrome for years. I used to describe the flare-up point as though I was standing on the edge of a cliff. By listening to my body, I can tell when my toes are inching forward to stand on air. Yet, what am I doing being that close to falling in the first place? You’d think I’d be smarter than that and yet, here I am, on the brink. Again.
On Friday, we’ll look at living full. But, for now, why do we live life on empty or at least in the bottom quarter of the tank? Is it our culture speaking? Why are we driven to get just one more thing done before allowing ourselves the time to refuel?