Don’t take the shortcut to life

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing chaplain
Life is a marathon race and sometimes the going can get tough. We sometimes want to take a shortcut through life's difficulties. This is illustrated in the life of the man whose farm was failing, his wife needed surgery and his bills were all past due. His credit wasn't strong enough for a loan so he decided to take a shortcut. He decided to rob a bank. He knew it was wrong but he was desperate. He tried to gain enough courage. He paced back and forth in front of the bank. He had a pistol and a bag for money. Shakily, he walked into the bank, rushed up to the teller, handed the gun to her and stammered, "Don't stick with me; this is a mess up!"

Mess-ups often occur in life when we try a shortcut. Ask any technician or pilot about the hazards of not following established safety procedures. The same diligence is required when operating the many home and garden appliances we own. Scores of people are injured every year because they thought they could take a shortcut through the stated precautions.

Why do we insist on taking the shortcut? Is it laziness or is it our desire for efficiency? The only time I feel good about taking a shortcut is when it gets me to a geographic location a little faster. But in the living of life, shortcuts often become short circuits.

To borrow a phrase from the aerobic fitness movement, we want "low impact" living. As an English philosopher once said, "If many people knew what they had to do to be successful, many wouldn't."

People often take shortcuts when it comes to physical fitness. But not people like Bob Ireland. Bob was the 1986 New York Marathon's 19,413th and last finisher. He recorded the slowest time in the marathon's history: four days, two hours, 48 minutes and 17 seconds. He came in last but he was the first person to run a marathon with his arms instead of his legs. Bob was a 40-year old Californian who lost his legs in Vietnam. When asked why he ran the race, he gave three reasons: to witness to his Christian faith, to test his conditioning and to promote physical fitness for others. Most telling was his comment, "Success is not based on where you start, it's where you finish, and I finished."

"Low impact" may be okay for beginners in aerobics, but when adopted as a personal goal it usually leads to "no impact." Stay focused, challenge yourself, and, as a trainer once said to his jockey when asked the secret to wining races, "Get out front and improve your position from there."