Running on Empty

Many of our modern cultures love to preach the necessity of having a full life. We are implicitly or explicitly informed that we should not only be full of ourselves—in financial status, level of education, and abundant possessions—but also in the stories that we can relate to others. “I went here, I went there. I did this, that, and the other,” we nonchalantly state. And in the inner solitude of our personal identity, where an attitude of competitiveness so often rules the day, the thought arises “And I must do all of the above much better than you.To a lesser or greater degree, our egoic “i” decrees that this is the fundamental way that life is to be lived.

The tragic consequence of this predominant paradigm of reality is that despite its advertised “fullness,” such a way of existing is more often than not pitifully shallow and hollow. It erects walls between those with whom we’re interacting. Does the world really need another photo of the meal we’re about to eat at Chez Something-or-Other Restaurant? At the end of a life what might we have to show for this way of being? Trophies and diplomas gathering dust? A Ferrari leaking oil in the fourth bay of our garage? Or perhaps, as in the case of “Art,” the unread logs of his solo motorcycle trips?

This article is not intended to be negative or judgmental. My intention is to relate awareness of my own ignorance; of years of feeling caught in a trap that was squeezing the life from me.

I’m grateful that through Grace I realized that trying to add depth to an illusory self not only wastes time but also adds nothing of value to our world. In my humble opinion, the real lesson is to live the life of your dreams while retaining the knowledge of all that’s truly important: love.

Now, I realize that running on empty is the way to go. As much as possible, I speak, write, and perform tasks as empty of Art as possible. I make “my” concerns, “my” life, and “my” concerns the smallest part of my days—not the biggest. In a glorious paradox, it is this perspective that has provided the fullness that I always desired. I invite you to experience the formless wonder of the present moment. It is Life, itself—minus the judgmental costume of “me.” Let’s stand spiritually together, ready to lift the world to a better place to be. When we unite in Oneness, we’re capable of creating so much goodness. Who knew that being a nobody could feel so good?


Art Russell
Art Russell
Arthur Russell is a retired paramedic of thirty-five years of service and currently lives in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. An author of both fiction and non-fiction, his previous published works include an e-book entitled Hold That Thought regarding the Law of Attraction and, more recently, a book entitled This Taste of Flesh and Bones about enlightenment and our spiritual nature. Now sixty-three, he wishes to share his knowledge regarding enlightenment to help alleviate human suffering. Proud father to a son and a daughter, he is currently working on his next book. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, adventure, motorcycling, and meeting new people, all of which enrich his life in countless ways.

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  1. I like your article, Art. Running on empty is an interesting idiom. In a car, driving on an almost empty gas tank can cause damage. The fuel pump is not designed to work without fuel.
    I believe it’s the same with people. But also, our lives may be overly full in many ways (success, possessions, etc.), and still, we can feel empty.
    Finding a balance between outward and inward, i.e. externals of life and feelings, is the hardest thing to do.
    If I may suggest, let our “gas tank” be 1/4 full so the “fuel pump” can work properly. 🙂 Let the rest be filled with what makes us happy inside and give our life meaning.

    • Hello Lada Prkic. I’m glad that you liked the article. I agree that people’s lives can be full of success and possessions, and yet they can feel empty inside. Finding balance, as you’ve mentioned, is key. Thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙏

  2. Hi Byron (and Happy Birthday, btw). Thank you for your kind words about my article. I agree with what you’ve expressed about all of life being a collaboration. I’m so glad that that you received such an amazing response from your fellow aviators. I believe that there’s only one “I;” despite “apparent” evidence to the contrary. The true Self–I Am That I Am–is the totality of the Whole and is masquerading as a multiplicity and diversity of form. Some refer to this as Christ Consciousness or Budhha Nature. Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙏🙏

  3. You’ll never be ‘ nobody’ my friend, but the impulse is honorable. I get it. While writing my latest book I had an epiphany: All of aviation—all of life—is a collaboration. So I reached out, requested input from fellow aviators, and received an amazing response. The book is so much stronger for it there’s no telling. Leaving the ‘I’ and the ‘mine’ behind is the way to go.