Friday, January 11, 2013

Beautiful Existence

This morning on my Dallas radio show I shared the story of a woman in Seattle who has gotten some minor national attention for her resolve to eat every single meal of her life this year at Starbucks. Eleven days into the year she's apparently on track.

The source story doesn't say why she wants to do this. She says she's not employed by Starbucks and isn't making any money for the stunt but I suspect that's her plan. We all remember the young guy named Jared who became a spokesman for Subway sandwich shops by losing a boatload of weight eating there. If this is what this Starbucks woman has in mind, I kind of feel bad for her. For one thing, it has already been done. And really, Starbucks doesn't need any help. They're so successful they're opening new stores on both sides of every McDonalds in the world. The other problem is that for every fru-fru croissant and muffin they put in the display case leading to the cash register Starbucks is still basically a purveyor of coffee. Jared didn't get the best-balanced diet in the world at Subway but at least he got a reasonable portion of veggies and some protein with his carbs. Ms. Existence may find her health flagging by the end of February.

Wait, I didn't tell you her name, did I? It's Beautiful Existence.

Apparently that is her legal name and if you're boringly normal like me your first thought is that she's a nutball. That's what I thought but after a few seconds of reflection it occurred to me that this woman, for whatever reasons related to her life experience, lives on a different plane than most of us. She travels to the beat of a different drummer. A drummer with a banjo.

My good friend Chuck Woodbury spent many years of his young adult life traveling around the western United States in a motorhome gathering and reporting the stories of such people in an wonderful monthly publication called Out West.  One story was about a young man Chuck met in some small town in Utah or Wyoming. The details escape me but I think this guy's name was David. He earned a living as a dishwasher in a local cafe. He spent all of his spare time at home, alone, with one of those adding machines from the 80s that kept running tabulations on a long roll of paper. He started with 1+1=2 and proceeded from there to add 1 over and over and over and over and over again. This guy had his house filled with carefully cataloged rolls of used adding machine tapes.

Before I left work this morning I wrote and recorded a radio report about Ms. Existence at Starbucks for use later in the day and I can't stop thinking about her. She might be a nutball or she might be just a Jared copycat.

David, the adding machine dishwasher, might be a genuine looney from where I sit.

On the other hand, "crazy" is a slippery word and though I don't know any of the trials and tribulations of the lives experienced by Beautiful Existence or David the dishwasher, part of me greatly envies them.

They wake up every morning with a plan, they follow through and go to bed each night with a sense of fulfillment.

They serve nobody's expectations except their own.

If that isn't life well-lived, what is?

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