Random forays: Lions are running, so are gazelles

  • Vivek Atray
  • Updated: Jul 24, 2016 15:28 IST
The fiercely competitive world of today keeps us on tenterhooks, on edge, and ready for battle day in and day out. (Shutterstock)

Author Christopher McDougall famously wrote the following lines “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

The youth of today’s world seem to have unwittingly ingrained his thoughts, a little too seriously perhaps. Indeed, we all have. The fiercely competitive world of today keeps us on tenterhooks, on edge, and ready for battle day in and day out.

This sense of competitiveness, of the need to be running every day, whoever we are or whatever we do, is perhaps essential for survival, to an extent. There are many out there who will outpace us in our fields of endeavour if we do not keep pushing ourselves to perform better. We have to egg ourselves on constantly and never-endingly to achieve more and more.

However, and this is where we are missing the point, it is up to us to spend time actually enjoying the journey as we move along. Where is that destination that we are scampering towards? It never really comes. It is a moving goal post and then there are always greater heights to scale. We never really get there!

Young people, especially, must realise that while being on this unavoidable and unstoppable rollercoaster, the bigger picture still has to be kept in mind.

At a recent Talk that I delivered, a young university student rose during the question-and-answer session and had the following poser for me:

“Sir, I am unsure whether to try for the Civil Services and spend a year just studying for it or to forget about that and focus on a corporate career. What should I do?”

I paused for a minute and pondered over my reply before speaking.

“The first thing for you to decide is what you really want from within. If your inner instincts tell you that you want to serve the nation and get into a career service you must give it a real shot. Find out more about a civil servant’s career and what it entails. Picture yourself in his shoes and see if you like the fit. On the other hand, if a more professional and revenue oriented domain is to your liking then you should go ahead and plunge into the corporate world. But whatever you do, be sure to keep the overall picture in mind and never ensconce yourself so deeply in your pursuits that you forget to savour the moment. The rat race may be inevitable but don’t forget to catch the view as you move along!’

Having gone through the grind myself, as have most of us, one realises that living in the frenzy of the world is like being on a huge treadmill with no pause button! One has to keep the momentum up just to stay in the same place. Those running alongside often float away, and new friends join the bandwagon, but of course a few stay by our sides the whole way.

The globalised and technologically-interconnected nature of life on our planet has totally isolated us from our ‘quiet’ moments. Thus the trend of several highly successful and well-placed people turning towards meditation and pursuits that give solace. Perhaps the younger generation needs to practice them right from now!

According to ‘The Real Truth’, an online magazine that aims to simplify our understanding of life’s quandaries, we mistakenly think that technology is improving the quality of our lives, whereas we are losing empathy and calmness.

It is indeed a fact that as we motor along life’s superhighway, we lose perspective and peace of mind. Perhaps we need to slow down once in a while and press the pause button, even if that means allowing others to overtake us. The lion and gazelle can perhaps take lessons in running from the tortoise and not from the hare!

( vivek.atray@gmail.com )

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