How to survive in the rabbit race
Each of us will have our own opinion on the rat race. Some will see it in a positive, achievement sense “It is a way of life in modern society that is the way to success: or you might see it in a negative sense: “It is a lifestyle lived by many people, oblivious and blind to it.”
There are so many opinions and definitions about a ‘rat race’. Here are a few:
From Wikipedia: A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the “cheese” much like society racing to get ahead financially.
From Urban Dictionary: Rat Race is a term used to describe a frustrating, hard-to-break financial lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that is lived by countless people, oblivious to the very nature of it, to a degree that even when called upon, vehemently deny it.
The rat race reminds me of the age old Aesop’s fable of THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE. “Come tortoise, let us race and see who will win it at the end.”
Most of us love this story as there is something resonating deeply within us when the underdog wins in life.
For those who do not know the story, here is an extract from Wikipedia:
The story concerns a Hare who ridicules a slow-moving Tortoise. Tired of the Hare’s boastful behaviour, the Tortoise challenges him to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the race. When the Hare awakes however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him.
There are many versions of this story and most children have encountered this story at least once in life. This story is used to motivate the children that is not always the best or first in class to keep on moving forward steadily and it is also used to teach the fast moving children not to be boastful.
I love the story, because it challenges us to think in many different ways about life.
Intrinsically we all strive to be good at what we are doing, we strive for productiveness, effectiveness. Time is such a precious commodity and we all are trying so hard to make the most of the time we have, to have more time for what matters in life. I found that within me there is a hare, a hare that enjoys the fruit of my labour, a hare that can look back after a day, after a week and show what I have accomplished. There is something good about the feeling of achievement, accomplishment. It is not all that bad. The Bible reminds us in Genesis that hard work is part of your life on earth and in Proverbs it points to the Ants and urge us to work tirelessly like them (An Ant Race). Proverbs also compliments the hard working women. Working hard is a good thing, it is a good virtue.
Intrinsically we all have the hare in us who are good with what we are doing and can show the results. The problem comes in when the hare is starting to run into circles. I have found in my own life, there are so many things to do, so many things I am able to do, so many things that requires my undivided attention, that I feel I am not achieving anything at the end, I run around in circles, I start on route A and then have to jump to route B, C, D and then come back to route A.
There was a time that I just could not keep up and one of many things can happen:
You burn out and go into a state of no productiveness for a while until you can recover;
Your body’s immune system gets broken down bit by bit that one day you are forced to stay home and sleep or you are flattened by the flue and have to stay in bed, in order for your body to recover for the next lap of the rat race;
Your most precious relationships break down, divorce, children, friends, when we are tired and emotionally drained from running full steam, we tend to have no energy, patience, effort left for those around us that is the closest to us.
This is the Hare falling asleep next to the tree, while the Tortoise keep on slowly and steadily.
Even though most of us might take our hat off for the Tortoise, we don’t really want to become Tortoises. But all of us has a Tortoise in us. We all love to live intentionally (even though it is difficult), we all have determination, focus. We love to rest in nature and enjoy the view. We all have experienced now and then the rejuvenation of getting back to the basics, having deep, satisfying relationships. Knowing where we are heading is worthwhile and have a purpose in life that we will not be distracted from. We all marvel at Maria who could sit at Jesus’s feet and listened to His wisdom, leaving the never-ending cleaning, making food and work behind. Poor Martha, we can all sympathize with her, being the only one with “responsibility”, doing the job while all the other goes out to play.
I have found a different ending to the famous Aesop’s fable. An ending where Hare and Tortoise in me start to work together. Where Hare realizes she needs to ensure her energy, passion, strengths needs to be focused on the right path and the only way Hare can achieve that is to allow Tortoise to set the direction, allow Tortoise some quiet time early in the morning to contemplate the day ahead, Tortoise needs to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His guidance for the day. Tortoise must be the director and set the pace. Then Hare can jump in and be productive and effective. When Hare and Tortoise work together, Hare are able to use all her energy to keep on going, without burning out, without getting so sick that she is too sick to partake in any race. Now Hare is able to focus on a goal without getting distracted and waste energy on side-lines and detours.
If you feel you are not able to tame the Hare in you, get someone, like a counselor or a coach that can assist you to connect with the Tortoise in you.