Die Empty or Die Happy?

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

A few months ago I heard the term, “Die empty,” on the Accidental Creative podcast.  He describes it as a mindset that all artists should adopt in order to work and live at their most creative potential.  It is something that I always felt, but the podcast was the first time I ever heard the sentiment put into words. They are solid words to live by.

Ciriana is a realist.  Things aren’t black or white… or grey. They just are.  For every action there is a reaction – equal or not.  This is life.  She brought up an interesting point.  If I started doing freelance work years ago in earnest, things might be different.  Today, with a mortgage, kids, and a few SEVEN cats, taking chances is not smart.  “It is more important to die happy, than to die empty.”

Artists or creatives all have other responsibilities and dedications.  Usually, family being in the top three. It sounds like dying empty may not be a feasible idea.

To die empty, may mean something different to everyone. I take it as express yourself as best as you can; always strive to learn and do more.

To die happy, again, may mean something different to everyone.  For me, I’m stuck.  I can be happy if I was working as a creative for the rest of my life.  Then again, I would also be happy spending as much time as possible with the kids and Ciri.

I’m not saying both of these scenarios are not possible at the same time, but one has to wonder.

[Flickr: Robert Crum][2]
Flickr: Robert Crum

In order to be truly happy, though, I think I would need to achieve both.  Which means that in order for me to die happy, I need to die empty.  That sounds really cruel – how can one not be satisfied with a life full of family and pleasant memories?  Make no mistake, I love my family and I consider myself blessed to have them.  But I believe that we’re here not just to continue our species, but to improve our way of life.  I am a creative. I need to create…

So, just a thought that’s been making the rounds in my head for awhile… Also… It feels presumptuous to narrow down my lifelong goals to two simple sentences, so I wonder if there is something else I am missing.  Family and “self” is pretty much it for me – in that order too.  Except, I find it difficult to answer this question: If i were to die now, would I die happy?