Running outta gas

You really should run out of gasoline sometime.

It is an exhilarating and oddly empowering game.  How low can it (my gas gauge) go?  My experience says about 2 gallons below “empty”. 

Before the day I actually ran out of gas, I would worry when the gauge hit what I now know to be an entirely false alert. Today I see truth. 

“Empty” is just a suggestion: hey driver, consider refueling in the next 30 – 40 miles…but certainly, don’t go out of your way for it.

Disregard conventional thinking and search for that place, where “empty” truly lies.

I found my empty late one day, driving home from law school, six or seven years ago.  Back then I had to choose between gas and weed, and I usually chose the latter because, obviously, it took me farther.  I ran out of fuel in the worse possible location, at the worst possible time, and I came out without a scratch.  A police officer somehow showed up within 10 minutes to keep cars from smashing into me, and my older brother came to the rescue another 20 minutes later with a small tank of gas to get me over the hill and back home.

I liken the experience to another momentous achievement of mine – sleeping through a final exam.  Technically I didn’t sleep through it, I was awake through it. I thought the exam was on Wednesday, when in fact, it was on Tuesday.  This is the stuff of suburban nightmare. Yet, even then, I wasn’t struck down by the almighty.  I called my professor, told him I blew it, and he gave me a “C”.  Painless.  My dad was relieved to know that his son didn’t actually earn a below average grade in Macro-economics.  Better to sleep through the race than get your ass kicked. I think.

Whether you run out of gas, miss an exam, or endure a real trauma, the experience helps frame your perspective.  Same thing with mind-bending drugs.  After a weekend imbued with mushrooms, or an acid trip, petty office politics don’t rise much higher than your ankles.  Survive one bad trip, survive them all.