Ashish Vaswani
Recently, I happened to have eavesdropped on a conversation between a couple.

Wife: “Aji suniye, yeh rat race kis bala ka naam hai bhala?”
Husband: “Bhaagwaan, tere aur tere bachhon ke pet mein jo choohein duadte hain, woh naa daudein is liye jo race main har din daudta hoon, use rat race kehte hain!”

Clearly, one couldn’t have asked for a better definition of the rat race in today’s dog-eat-dog world. Right from the day we’re born, we’re (or at least most of us are) knowingly or unknowingly enslaved by this race to be better than the best. You know what I mean by the rat race if you can even remotely relate the reel life example of Prof. Viru Sahastrabuddhe in 3 Idiots to someone you know personally or worst still, meet every morning when you face the mirror. Come on, how many of us can cross our hearts and claim to have never acted ‘under the influence’ to outdo the closest competitor, not because we wanted to, but because we feared that if we didn’t, someone else would beat us to the finish line?

In this day and age of sky-rocketing cut-offs and ever increasing cut throat competition, our daily life has been reduced to a mere rat race- a race which has turned us all into lifeless maniacs striving hard to achieve the unachievable. In our efforts to do so, we may sometimes even
end up getting what we were yearning for, but the hunger to be
the best just keeps multiplying like a parasitic virus.

‘Sky is the limit’, I was taught in school. But, for our generation that thrives on plastic money and highly priced technological marvels, even sky does not seem to be the limit. In our so called ‘pursuit for excellence’, we start compromising and adjusting with stuff we’re least comfortable doing. Be it the average school classroom or the boardroom of a multinational corporation, everyone just has one aim in mind- to lead the rest. Never do we even think twice before stooping to cheap tactics to achieve this mindless goal. And after all the corner cutting and ego thwarting, we begin to forego the basic pleasures of life. Forecasting the losses in business due to the weather becomes more important than getting drenched in the season’s first showers and smelling the aroma of the freshly quenched earth. Googling your competitor’s new business strategy takes the lead over sipping a cup of piping hot coffee with friends.

Our daily lives are nothing short of a ruthless melee, getting in and out of trains and buses to try and shave off those precious seconds, that we think could make the difference between the next appraisal and the next round of lay-offs. What we unintentionally begin doing, is sacrificing personal happiness to stay ‘IN THE RACE’. And we’re paying a really heavy price to be a part of it. Every other day, we hear of young ambitious professionals falling prey to the stress, thereby inviting heath complications like hypertension and heart trouble. It’s high time we slowed down a bit to pause and ponder over our priorities and set them straight before the race gets the better of us.

Want to end with this beautiful piece that I came across:

When I was born, I was dying to go to school
In school, I was dying to experience college life
Once in college, I was dying to graduate and find a job
At work, I was dying to retire
And then, when I was dying, I realized I’d forgotten something
Maybe I’d forgotten to live.
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