Friday, May 6, 2016

Story 133: Life Grand Prix

            Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 83rd Annual Eternal Insurance Life Grand Prix.  Excitement permeates the air as our two racers bring their vehicles to the starting line: each car is equipped with equal amounts of familial love, safety features, and money invested in them.  And now, here’s some background on the drivers before our race begins.
            Driver 1 is what I would like to call a real go-getter: always prepared, has goals and a variety of ways to achieve them, ensures proper nutrition is available for her car, and has backup-plan repair kits on stand-by.
            Driver 2 is just going to wing it.
           And the starting flag is raised – the engines of hopes and dreams are revving mightily – the flag lowers and they’re off!
            The first leg of the course is the good old “School Years”.  And this is promising – each driver navigates the obstacles in this section well.  Oops, watch out for that “Prom” snag, Driver 1!  Heh-heh, someone always trips up on that one.
         Now, here the course diverges into several sections that also loop back onto each other: “College,” “Career,” “Family,” “Undercover Government Agent,” and “Hardened Criminal.”  The sixth option of “Early Retirement” was permanently removed from the course back in `09 – we’ll be lucky if any of us can ever retire at this point, am I right?  [Pauses; listens] I’ve just been notified by my producer to refrain from political commentary, and he’s right, I’m not bitter at all, I love my job – would you look at that!  Both drivers chose “College”; I haven’t seen that happen in ages!
            They seem to be doing well on that part of the course: they are smoothly navigating through the rough terrain of “Registration”; now “Research”; ooh, “Football Games” – uh-oh!  Seems that Driver 2 is being led astray by the “School Projects” leg, which cleverly mimics “Research” except for the fact that the driver invests no meaning in the work outside of itself: a common pitfall to which nearly every driver caught up in it falls prey.  She’s slowed down a bit now that she is mired in the swamp of “Ouroboric Academia,” whereas Driver 1 has pulled ahead using the “Real World Experience” off-ramp.
            Oh no!  Driver 1 screeches to an almost-stop and is nearly derailed off the racecourse by the “Life Tragedy” obstacle!  Ooh, this is tricky – this obstacle has been known to completely finish racers off if they never recover.  OK, I see that Driver 1 has shifted gears, chosen a path different from the one she originally was set on, and yes!  She is back in the race and gaining speed yet again!  Boy, I’m always glad to see that kind of recovery when it happens – very inspirational.
            Let’s return to Driver 2 – oh my.  It seems that she has veered off course significantly through the “Bad Decisions” hazards, and she is now nowhere near where she needs to be if she has any hope of ever reaching the finish line.  Her only chance now is to do a complete about-face, frustratingly cover the same ground she just traveled, and re-enter the main course where she had left it – a very daunting route, and one that few take.
            While she is pondering this life-determining selection, let’s check back with Driver 1 – unbelievable!  Not only has she regained all the time and distance that she had previously lost from the “Life Tragedy,” but she then found an even better section of the course than if she had stayed on her original path!  She’s going for it – going for it – and she has reached the “Success and Contentment” finish line!  Amazing!  That was a rare treat to witness, let me tell you; I am moved to tears here by all that bravery, intelligence, and determination that was just displayed.
            I almost hate to do this, but let us return to Driver 2 one last time.  Oh dear – ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Driver 2 has parked her vehicle, disembarked, and has since taken up residence in To-Heck-With-It-All-Ville.  Sad to see this, and difficult to fathom especially since she didn’t even have “Life Tragedy” to deal with.  Well, she has lots of company with the previous racers who had made the same choice, but her companions for the rest of her life will be that of fellow quitters.  Best not to think of her ever again.
            Well, that was a great race for Driver 1 – hard to top that, but I definitely will be following her career of future races and wins with interest.  For now, thank you again for joining us in the 83rd Annual Eternal Insurance Life Grand Prix, and let me sign off by saying: when you’re in a race, at least try to finish it.

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