The metaphor of the rat race as a way to talk about the nature of contemporary life is instructive. I wonder about its origin. And just what is a rat race? I picture a maze in some scientific laboratory with a dozen rodents scrambling in all directions, trying with great frustration to find their way to freedom. Is that a rat race? Did anyone tell the rats they were in a race? Is there really a winner in that race?
The fact that we should choose this metaphor as a way to talk about the way we live our lives is……what? Alarming? “Well, we have got to get going and join the rat race.” Do we? Well, that is what we have always been told and tell everybody else. That is how we were educated in school. We are taught that life is hectic and difficult. It doesn’t have to be.
You have the power to choose your mindset and change your perspective. If you tell yourself that life is going to be a struggle, then struggle is all you will attract. Perhaps the time has come to pick a new metaphor to describe your life. Maybe you can shift the focus to something more positive.
Here are a few suggestions:
Life is a cat prowl
I envision slow and careful steps, a calm awareness of what is going on in my neighborhood, and a pace that suits my needs.
Life is a dog walk
I move now with lively interest, with stopping and goings, encounters with other dogs, trees, and people, always ready to respond to a friendly petting.
Life is a fox trot
Here is a light-footed way to dance through life. Find a partner! You can always sit the next one out.
Life is a…
- monkey march
- pony canter
- whale breach
- eagle soar
- pig parade
- elephant lope
- panda bear excursion
You see? Once you change the way you look at the problem, it doesn’t seem so ominous. The rat race is all your head. Life is what you make of it. Don’t let anyone else tell you how it should be!