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 a rat race?
And 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.” We do? Well, that is what we have always been told and tell everybody else. That is how we were educated in school to understand that life is a rat race. We did not have a choice to choose what we want to hear since we were born.
The metaphors we use not only reflect the way we live, but create the way we live.If we call life a rat race, it will tend to become one.
So let’s change the metaphors. 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 bouncy-stepped way to dance through life. Find a partner! You can always sit the next one out.
Life is a monkey march. Life is a pony canter. Life is a whale breach. Life is a swallow soar. Life is a pig parade. Life is an elephant lope. Life is a panda bear excursion. Remember, the metaphors we use can help us to be more joyful. So pick carefully. What’s your favorite metaphor to describe life?