A man with no goal is a rudderless ship, subject to the whims of fickle Neptune's fathomless fancies...
No, wait, that's not right. (Well, it is right, but it's not going to get me to the point I want to make. Lemme start over.)
A man with no goal is a ship safe at port. He hath access to all he might need, but knoweth not how strong the stuff of his sails may be.
Stand by for actual example intended to double as allegory in 3... 2... 1:
Years ago almost everything I ate was bland. There was no garlic in my life. No curries. No peppers. It was, in part, a result of the company I kept but, in truth, I didn't even really aspire to spicy.
I had dabbled before and felt the heady rush of the flavorful fire. But mostly I played it safe. Nothing ventured, nothing lost, and I wasn't willing to risk the cost.
I won't go into what made my tastes change, but they did. And suddenly spicy sounded pretty damned good. Some peppers here, some salsa there. Shake a little Tabasco on that, wouldja? I bounced around, trying this and that, but eventually I had to admit I was getting nowhere. I decided I needed to test myself – to stretch my boundaries. I needed a plan. I needed a goal.
Now, let's be honest, spicy food goals are limited in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Thankfully, there is BW3. I set my sights on the Blazin' Challenge.
This was a worthy goal. It scared me (though I certainly wasn't going to let anyone know). There was going to be nothing comfortable about this zone.
Here's the thing you need to know about the Blazin' Challenge: The spiciness of the Blazin' sauce is no higher than third on your list of worries.
Problem number one is the temperature of the wings. See, the waitress brings your wings straight out from the kitchen, accompanied by a Wing Nazi. The Wing Nazi is equipped with a stopwatch. And when she hits that button, your six minutes start. Those wings are hot. That's problem number one.
Problem number two is more of a timed-release problem that I won't go into in this venue.
And yes, the Blazin' sauce is problem number three. It's pretty darned hot. And they slather a whole lot more of it onto your Blazin' Challenge order than they do when you place a regular ol' lunchtime order for a dozen Blazin' wings.
It made me sweat. It made me drool. It cut loose viscous strands of runny snot that issued forth from my nostrils in just about the least attractive way possible. But I did it. I did it in about four and a half minutes. I set the highest goal I could imagine and did what I needed to do to reach that goal.
That's what we should do more of, don't you think? I'm not very good at challenging myself, but I do pretty well at facing up to challenges when they're put before me. Corinne's awesome like that. She has a bold-but-delicate way of challenging me to try new things. To reach farther. To do something bigger and better. (No, she hasn't gotten me to write a book yet. But she'll never stop trying. Guess it's a goal of hers!)
For the most part, I'm okay with that. But every once in awhile, I really wish I had a little more of a bohemian edge to me. Just every once in awhile I'd like to be able to sit in a darkly lit coffee shop, sipping organic espresso, wearing something that looks truly ridiculous but is still cool (because it was hand-woven by the grandmother of an Ecuadoran freedom fighter who was executed by a death squad of jack-booted thugs and died in my arms, breathing out his last wish – that I take this poncho back to America so that some part of his grandmother could at least touch freedom), and opining in detached, world-weary tones about the collective works of Franz Kafka or David Sedaris or whoever it is that's really cool and not a phony.
But that will never be me. First off, I don't even like coffee. But it's more than that. I'll never be tragically hip because I'm too conservative in my politics, too aesthetically unaware in my fashion sense and too slothful in my reading habits.
I have a degree in government, and the closest I ever came to "politically active" in college was driving into town when Bob Dole came to the St. Cloud Holiday Inn. (Actually, I'm not even sure I drove. I think my car was broken down at the time.)
The only time I was ever "fashion-forward" was my senior year in high school. Moving from a big school to a small one, I was at the vanguard of the boxer rebellion. And I was the first to wear indoor soccer shoes to class.
I think the biggest part of my problem is plain old apathy. It takes work to be quirky. And I just don't have enough want-to in me. There are just these passing whims. That's not, however, to say that I am and will always be a blind conformist. (That takes work too. Keeping up with all the trends I'm supposed to follow? Come on. That's not me either.)
I guess I'll just be who I am. I'll embrace the eighth of myself that actually IS bohemian. And I'll sleep well in the knowledge that, while my percentage isn't high enough to get me free tickets to the poetry slam, it IS high enough to get me a cut if they ever open up a casino in Greenwich Village.