The Rat Race

This post is dedicated to my father and the millions like him who slept one night, to awake and find themselves lost.

I took my love,

And took it down.

Climbed a mountain and turned around,

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills

‘Till the landslide brought me down.

– Fleetwood Mac

Every morning, a huge portion of humanity wakes up and goes to work for something they do not own. They say the future of artificial intelligence lies in hive intelligence. Ever since we discovered agriculture, we have been working, not like other mammals but like bees & ants, with our desires channelled towards not just ourselves, but a sense of greater good, a larger purpose of fitting into a gigantic structure where being a cog is worthwhile because you have a body of work to show for it.

Yes, Nasa’s solar wind sail unfurled successfully a few days ago. But I don’t know how so many people do it. Getting up one morning, to find they have completed 25 years working for something. Towards something. For the daily wage earner, these 25 years might be just 10. But Time is relative anyway. Getting up to find that soon the machine does not need him anymore. Getting up to find he is not indispensable. And that “no-one is indispensable” is actually the one true thing about this system. This hive. This alienation of Man.

Yes, we buy our freedoms. Our little consumptions, our little joys. We do things that make us happy along the way, things that are for “us”. We take leaves, and sabbaticals. We do secondments and get awards and promotions. We buy glittering things. Little magpies. And this quicksand of dreams sucks us deeper and deeper in. We draw the line. We put work before ourselves. The words say more than we allow them to, maybe because we use them so often. We deprive and we over-prive. We do whatever it takes, to “stay invested, stay hungry and stay lean”.

Do we even know who we are? Or what drives us?Or what we really wanted to begin with. Since before I could remember I was told “Do you want to be a tabal-chi? Or a scientist?”. And the change in tone and the wry smile had already conditioned my answer.

And this little story is but a side-alley in a metropolis.

But, when it ends, when we have only ourselves, and the laughter of our grandchildren around us, and the time to read that book. That is the time I wait for.

So cheers all you “25-years-into-this-business”. The best is ahead of you. So fuck this shit.

3 responses to “The Rat Race”

  1. beautiful
    this makes me feel OK about being in the rat race… funnily enuf…

    meanwhile i will shamelessly ‘invest’ in those little shiny magpies i keep talking about… šŸ™‚

  2. Dear Baban,
    Very well written.Congrats.but it all bring us back to the basic question.Why are we here,are we here of our own free will?Who has sent us here and for what purpose?I thought Marx had found an answer but sadly it did not work.What baffles me is this retrogressive metamorphosis .Instead of a linear progress where an old system gives way to anew one,we are back to hard core capitalism.Winwood Reade calls the history of mankind as”The Martyrdom of Man” which would continue till the life support system collapses and like many other planets,man relieved of his misery.

    • Thank you for commenting Mehmood U. Now I have to read Rawls AND Reade. šŸ™‚ I agree with you. Our current system feeds only on itself, and one day we will have eaten ourselves into nothingness.

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