Fully Empty … December 20, 2011


Jonathan in Miami


A good used car. It might seem to be an oxymoron but if you take care of your vehicle, check the fluids and drive sanely, it can remain faithful  to you beyond the normal miles of expectation.
Martin had such an automobile. He loved it–not in a weird way, but just with a deep sense of admiration and compatibility that he had developed with this particular mechanism over the years. Perfect seats, exactly situated for his frame from the steering wheel. Good heater. Nice radio. Started up every time, even on frosty mornings.  All the requirements necessary to create a lasting matrimony between man and machine.
Well, there was one thing. About two years into the relationship, the gas gauge on his dear friend stopped working. Well, that’s not exactly true. Better stated, it registered incorrectly. It was odd–because the gauge, rather than falling to the empty position in exhaustion from years of use, had instead propelled itself to a permanently stuck-up position, on full. So every time Martin started his car, the gas gauge touted that it was filled to the brim and ready for the longest trip that its owner could contrive.
Of course, it wasn’t true, but Martin found it very difficult to keep up with the actual gas level because of the over-zealous representation of the gauge. So after running out of gas for the second time because his memory had not stirred him to purchase fuel, but had somehow or another started trusting the braggart needle, he decided he had better take it to the shop to get it fixed. The mechanic explained that it was possible, but very expensive, and that the repair would be a bit unreliable and he would not be able to guarantee it.
So Martin pushed on, trying to accept the frailty of his ailing friend. But when he ran out of gasoline a third time, failing to remember to purchase the magic elixir because of the gas gauge registering full, he decided he had to do something. He went out and bought a roll of black electrician’s tape and carefully–and stylishly, may I add–taped over the screen of the gas gauge, completely blacking out any visibility. He deemed it better to go without a gauge than to trust one that told him he was always full.
The system worked. Oh, at first it was a little aggravating because Martin got tired of keeping track of his gasoline purchases, but eventually it made him realize that the only way to be full was to know you might be empty–because without emptiness, you are tempted to gauge yourself as full and sometimes forget the need to be fueled.
Actually, it made Martin a better man across the board. His attention to detail about his gasoline consumption helped him remember his anniversary and his wife’s birthday. He also noticed when the little boy was riding his bicycle across the road without paying attention to traffic and slammed on his brakes in the nick of time. He received a promotion at work because he perceived a need in the company’s planning before anyone else had seen it.
Martin never regretted having a bad gas gauge–and to this day, the black tape remains over the screen, forcing Martin to consider the emptiness of the tank every time he entered the vehicle. It was a most intelligent and valuable lesson.
If we always believe we’re full, we will never sense our emptiness–and even though religion, politics and pop psychology may want to gauge us as needing nothing, it is the sensation of hungering and thirsting that makes us yearn for righteousness, permitting us to become full.


Merry Christmas! Listen to Jangled, below — the snazziest mix of Jingle Bells, Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells you’ll ever hear!


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!


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