Live Well, Die Empty

Sometimes, even in the middle of success, we doubt. Yesterday was quite the day of accomplishment for me, and yet at the very end of it I found myself wondering as to the point of it all. 

You can see the fruits of some of my labor all around today’s post. I sat and worked with figuring out hand coding and linking and image hosting for the book review section so that I can give props where props are due. I added three links sections, one for websites, another for blogs that I frequent, and a third with links to stories written by those I know. I wrote an introduction to the blog that comes pretty close to defining what this blog is shaping up to be. I even made connections with a couple of authors via the web.

After sitting down and finishing a couple of critiques for friends, I looked at the analytics for the day and let the wave of accomplishment roll over me. The blog has been a good thing for me and everyone’s support even better.

Having “digitally” met Les Edgerton yesterday (author of “Hooked” and a hell of a nice guy*) I thought about my other favorite book on writing. I typed “Sol Stein” into Google and came across a blog post reviewing one of his books. The post was by Grumpy Old Bookman, “A blog about books and publishing, aimed at both readers and writers. Listed by the Guardian in 2005 as one of the top ten literary blogs.”

His last post was over a year and a half ago. It seems that this once top ten literary blog was no more. In his farewell post he spoke of other famous blogs from around the web that are no more, like that of Mad Max, and Miss Snark. I’ve seen all of these blogs before, listed on other bloggers’ lists of top writing and literary aids. Seems they all wore themselves out.

It got me thinking about whether or not I can keep up this blog. I have high hopes, am filled with so much that I have yet to share, and am learning more every day, but still, it takes a lot of time to pump out these posts. I guess that’s why some people hire others to do it for them.

The old doubts started to creep up. “Just stop now. Slow down. Don’t get yourself in over your head.” Those are the same doubts that have plagued much of my life up to this point. Self limiting behaviors that pull me down into the depths of mediocrity.

But then a saying sprung to mind. It’s something I adapted from that old podcast on knowledge working for creative types, (Acidental Creative). I believe the story goes that the host had the picture of a tombstone above his desk. On it was his name and the words he wanted written there when he died. I have since adapted that saying, cutting it down to the bare essentials.

“Live well, die empty.”

At first it sounds rather morbid. “Die empty?” It calls up images of a heartless old man who cares for nothing. But if you look deeper you find that the words mean something altogether different. The idea is simple. We all die. And when we die we have to give up all of that potential that was left inside of us at the time of our deaths. Just like our possessions, we can’t take it with us. It doesn’t pay forward to some heavenly account where we can wire it back down to Earth. You can’t even use it to buy yourself a really great headstone. It’s just gone.

Instead, why not take all of that energy, all of that potential, all of that creativity and imagination and squeeze out every last drop of it? Push yourself until you burn out and then ask yourself if you’ve really got nothing left. Chances are there’s still more, and if there is not, then you’ve done it. You won. You lived your life to its fullest potential. You gave it your all, and when you die people can say:

“He lived well, and died empty.”


Happy writing, friends. And again, thank you.

Edit: 2010/10/29 

You learn some interesting things about people when you befriend them on Facebook, things that can make a person no longer respect and admire you. I'll be reviving the blog long enough to put up a post on just why I've struck my earlier belief that Les is a nice guy (or even a decent human being for that matter), but for the time being, let's just say that I don't have room in my life for people who believe that anyone that hasn't fought in a war is a latte sipping liberal that bows down to "towel heads" and "illegals." 

Oh, and if you are a progressive, Les also doesn't think you have what it takes to become an author anyway so you might as well not go out and buy his book, you'll be wasting your time. 


Anonymous said...

This. Is. Perfect.

David Noceti said...

Thank. You. You. Are. Sweet. ;)

Post a Comment