Last Thursday I ran across an amazing podcast from Joanna Penn and Todd Henry.

It began with two little words:

Die Empty.

Contrary to the photo, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. What’s it all about? Turns out, the graveyard is the most valuable place in the world. Not the Louvre, a luxury hotel in Hong Kong, or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The cemetery is worth more than all of those places. Why? They contain all the unwritten novels, unpainted masterpieces, unwritten operas, and millions of other things left undone that people like you and me carried around inside of us.

Todd and Joanna go on to talk about other things like mapping, making and meshing. Or how our Focus, Assets, Time and Energy (FATE) determine our fate. If you haven’t heard the podcast before, I highly recommend it. They’re both so personable, you’re gonna love listening to it. It’s as if they’ve perched themselves on a chair in your living room and are chatting with you over a cup of coffee.

I keep going back to the graveyard image, though. When I think of the magnitude of this, my mind wants to explode. How many inventions are buried deep within the ground? How many ideas were never proposed? How many stories have never been written? What’s inside of you and me begging to be released? Is it your poetry? A year of living life to the fullest through bucket lists? Maybe you’re a craftsman and there’s a divan design burning inside of you. For me, it’s my characters and their stories. Some of you may not even know what’s inside yearning to get out. Others might think they know, until it comes out and they discover it was something entirely different from what they thought. Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a dad, an accountant, a historian, or a chef, all of us have something inside of us. It’s up to us what we do with it. Do we hold it close and shelter it from critical eyes? Do we smother the life out of it by piling up the mundane tasks like picking up cat food and doctor’s visits on top of it?

Let’s not do that. Wait–go to the doctor and of course you need to get cat food, if you have a cat (please don’t starve Mr. Mittens!). But let’s not allow life to smother what’s inside of us. Let’s not give fear the power to keep us from releasing our ideas out into the world. Let’s not allow the endless rushing around to drown out the voice of our dreams.

You know what? Let’s make a pact.

Let’s discover what it is we want to put out there–a poem, a dream, a story, a bucket list promise, whatever it is, and let’s do something about it, no matter how small.

Every. Single. Day.

Look up a new word. Write a paragraph, any paragraph. Describe the curtains in your living room, or sign up to a writing exercise blog. Join a writer’s group. If you need encouragement, talk to someone else, or offer encouragement to another. You’d be surprised how much we help ourselves when we reach out and help others. If you want to paint and can’t get to a canvas, look at another painting. Brainstorm the elements for a new still life. Plan a photography day.

Sometimes all we can do is plan, sometimes we can encourage, and sometimes we can act. At the end of the day though, let’s promise to ask ourselves two questions: Did I do something, anything at all, to move one step closer to the dream that lives inside of me? Am I closer to dying empty today than I was yesterday?

Occasionally, we can take the day off to sleep.

Unless you have small children.

2 thoughts on “Dying Empty

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