Senseless Goals, Lost Paths And Wasted Lives
By James Donahue
Rafael Antonio Lozano has been attempting to drink a cup
of coffee at all corporate-owned Starbucks restaurants in the world. He began his trek in 1997 and at the time his story appeared,
had visited 4,775 Starbucks in North America in another 213 of them in Spain, England, France and Japan. At last check he
is still on this quest, having slurped coffee at an estimated 10,000 locations. Oh yes, Lozano has now changed his full name
to John Winter Smith, for reasons only known to himself.
Then there is Jim Dryer, a marathon swimmer who has successfully
swam across all of the Great Lakes, plans to swim from Chicago through all of the chain to lakes to the end of the St. Lawrence
River, and wants to set record length swims on the open sea.
Baltimore Oriole outfielder Rafael Palmeiro, San Francisco
Giants hitter Barry Bonds and New York Yankee player Roger Clemens are among the most recent long line of sluggers found to
have been ruining their bodies with steroids to build the muscular strength to break records striking those crowd-pleasing
home runs during America’s most infamous time-waster, the game of baseball.
And in a story like this we must not omit national
hero cyclist Lance Armstrong, who overcame cancer to score seven consecutive wins in the grueling Tour de France bicycle race.
He too has been implicated in illegal drug use to hit his mark.
The point is that these are all stories about men who have
devoted their lives and possibly their health to accomplish useless tasks.
What is it that sends people off on senseless life endeavors
like these? Other than getting their names in the Guinness Book of World Records and perhaps a moment of fame in newsprint,
just what is it that these people achieve? What will they have to show for their existence on this planet when the time
they have been given on this planet is over?
Strangely, this writer understands the peculiar challenge
of accomplishing such inane goals. As an ardent reader I once set out to read every book in our home-town public library.
After reading my way about a third of the way across the first shelf in the fiction section by authors with names starting
with “A” I realized that not all books are of interest to me, nor are they well written and some are just not
worth anyone’s time to be read.
In my youth I was an ardent stamp collector and active bird
watcher. After receiving a Brownie Hawkeye camera as a gift I set a goal of taking a photograph every day marking some event
occurring in my life. Oh yes, I also became engrossed in model railroading.
At a later time in my life I capitalized on a personal interest
in naval history after learning that an estimated 6,000 ships lie sunk on the bottom of the Great Lakes. While living and
working for a newspaper in a lake port city, I decided to research the history of every one of them for a weekly column. The
column proved popular and the research lead to a few books.
Yes, I truly understand the call that comes to individuals
to devote their lives to doing busy, nonsensical things. While hobbies are fun and good outlets for unwinding after long hard
word days, there can be a danger in turning hobbies into an obsession. There also is a danger of using that obsession to fill
every spare moment of extra time so that we forget the important things. . . like reaching out to our wives, our children,
our friends, neighors and the community.
Instead of collecting wealth, awards and things, real wealth
can be found in what we give away. The real rewards occur when we follow a spiritual path, reach out in love to around us
and discover the deity within ourselves.
Among the really important goals is to love and care
for the Mother Earth, from whom we acquire our essential needs to stay alive.
There was a time when I was trudging along to church every
Sunday and thought I had the God connection covered. Not only was I sitting in the wrong pew, I was obviously
on the wrong path.
Who would have thought that my choice of new pathways would
lead to an exciting adventure? I now have joined a remnant of the human race in what we perceive as a fight for the
very survival of our planet, escape from the forced enslavement of humanity and the discovery of our collective soul. I
now find myself caught up in a war against unseen forces that I once thought did not exist.
As this battle encompasses our daily lives, I can only wonder
how people like Lonzano, Dryer, Palmeiro and Armstrong can foolishly race around the globe, setting records in coffee drinking,
swimming, bicycling and hitting balls, but overlook the real adventure going on right under their noses.
Tragically we know that if this race is not won, their
accomplishments will be no more than memories turned to ashes on a dead and burning planet. If more men and women with this kind
of fervor for achievement would join ranks, think of how much better our chances would be.
We are fighting against what appear to be incredible
odds. If humans cannot learn to turn away from warfare and bigotry and start reaching out in love and brotherhood, if we do
not stop pillaging our natural resources, and if we continue to allow ourselves to be enslaved in a false pursuit for personal
possessions, all wil be lost.
So what is more important Mr. Winter, another cup of coffee
at some remote Starbucks restaurant, or reaching out in love to feed and comfort the homeless child you just passed while
on your way?