The answer appears from the juke box in my head: a soundtrack of Jackson Browne’s 1977 “Running on Empty.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq25ZJwZJzU (Go ahead and play it if you don’t recall the song.)
That song resonated with me at the time of its release. I’m two years and a few days younger than Jackson Browne, but by 1977 I was five years into my career as a consulting actuary, knowing I had sold my soul for a corporate life and already working on a plan for early retirement. Twenty-seven and already running on empty.
Fast forward to 2018 and the possible events that triggered my internal jukebox to queue up “Running on Empty.” Last month I attended my 50th high school reunion. Fifty years gone by like so many summer fields. The harvests bountiful but little to show of it: stubble holding the soil in place, bunches of worn-out machinery parked in a woodlot, and the reasonable financial security from being lucky and thrifty. I doubt my 17-year-old self would have projected how my life has so far turned out. That optimistic youth on fire to change the world would undoubtedly be disappointed at the pragmatic 67-year-old he’s become. At least the pragmatic 67-year-old isn’t disappointed in the kid.
And tomorrow, when I’ve finished completing all the online and physical paperwork notifying the world of Mom’s change in address, I’ll get back to the worlds inside my head. I’ll edit False Bottom, the 6th Seamus McCree, and I’ll write the next scene in my next novel.
Here’s a sad little secret: even in these made up worlds of mine, characters don’t say and act the lines I expected. They have their own wills, and I’m often running behind trying to catch up to the road they’re traveling on.