The Rat Race - Part 1


The Rat Race - Part I - by P.K.Odendaal - October 2014.

 

I was inspired recently whilst seeing the film 'Man of La Mancha' and listening to that most beautiful of songs: 'To reach the unreachable star'. This song was composed by Mitch Lee with lyric by Joe Darion. Here it is:



To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...


To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...


This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...

To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...


And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...

 
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...




What reverberates with me is the part: 'That one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove, with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star. Of course, here he sings of Jesus Christ who did in fact reach that unreachable star, by giving His life for the saving of this world. That was an unreachalbe star for millenia, but He made that star reachable by the simple but formidable and selfless task of His struggle under heavy scorn, scars and humiliation to reach that goal.




And that not only sums up the whole New testament, but also our struggle for whatever we find worthwhile of attaining. Just thinking of the concept of reaching the unreachable star is profound and exhilarating stuff.


On the other hand, we must not forget that this song was written for the film wherein Don Quixote strove for righting the wrong of all mankind, to fight the unbeatable foe and to bear the unbearable sorrow, although, in his simple minded way, he did it with illusion and disillusion.


You may ask me how Don Quixote, the exponent of imagination, fantasy and illusion, and reaching the unreachable star, the ultimate quest of mankind and reality, can be reconcilable with the reality of Jesus Christ. The answer I would give you is that there is so little difference between dreaming of that star, searching for it or reaching it. Both are quests worthwhile pursuing and some of them might just bring us to that unreachable star. Let us listen to, and ponder the meaning of that song. I find the most satisfying performance of the song by Placido Domingo, Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrebko.
If I just think of the main words of the essence of the song: that of seeking and accomplishing a very worthwhile quest - be it to right a wrong, to beat a foe, to bear a sorrow or to dare. This is the essence of life itself. If I hear about someone who has accomplished something worthwhile, I normally think of the toil, sweat, despair and even blood which accompanied such a quest and the words of Rooseveld then again reverberates in my mind:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

It all starts with a dream, the epitome of illusion, the shadow of nothing, but in the end it leads us to achievement on a grand scale. However, we must be willing to follow that dream, strive for it and even sometimes live it. And that is the words ABBA sings in this beautiful song: 'I have a dream':


I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile



That is exactly what life means to me and I thrive on the effort it takes to accomplish something. Will we stand by and watch others bleed and suffer whilst we become those cold and timid souls, or shall we suffer and know the satisfaction of accomplishment. I will take suffering and accomplishment every time, but the point I wish to make is that that star must be reachable - at least in the imagination - and that the world must be better for that.


And that brings me to The Rat Race. There are so many races which we participate in, and some of them are quite useless, like the most trivial one of winning a physical sprinting race.


In the next article I will elaborate on these races.




 

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