Monday, March 24, 2008

The Rat (or Rut) Race...

For me one of the most eye-opening books I have read in the past 10 years is Mind the Gap, by Graeme Codrington. He is a South African who has done considerable research into ‘generational theory’. The reason I this was such an eye-opening book is that while Codrington emphasises the fact that they he is not attempting to make generalisations, he does notice some interesting trends within groups of people of similar ages. So what has this got to do with anything? It’s just been interesting to see trends within groups of people of the same age even in different parts of the world – perhaps especially as they have spread across the world. Since I left South Africa in 2006 I have been fortunate to meet a range of people from different parts of the world doing different things and for different reasons, yet at the same time I’ve noticed trends.

I guess the group that I’ve found really interesting – and I’ve met numerous people in this kind of situation in South America – are those who are questioning life, purpose, meaning etc or perhaps they just need a (temporary) change. I have met people who like what they do and know what they want to do with their lives, yet they’ve chosen to take time out to explore the world before they’re perhaps too old to do everything they want to do. I met 2 ladies from somewhere in Western Europe a few months back who had sold almost everything (like their cars and apartments), left their jobs, put the rest of their stuff in storage and decided to see the world. Here in Cusco I have also met numerous people who for whatever reason have become disillusioned with life where they’re from (quite a few from Western Europe) and have decided they want a different pace of life and a different lifestyle, even if the financial benefits could be better back home – some of them are not big fans of the ‘rat race’. Then there are still others who have not necessarily decided to settle here, but for now they’re just hanging around and taking life as it comes while trying to figure out what they want to do in the long-term (that’s if they come up with a medium to long-term plan anytime soon).

So what’s the point of all this? Well, for me it’s been interesting considering some of the supposed prerequisites for proof of maturity (I hope that sentence makes sense). The way I see it is that these supposed prerequisites not only involve joining the so-called ‘rat race’ but for some it means ending up in a rut too. Okay, I understand that history of South Africa (and especially for some communities) has meant significant isolation resulting in perhaps limited ways of seeing things. I guess what amuses me at times is that 10 years ago I was on what some would regard as the ‘right track’ – I had a full-time job, I was studying and paying for it myself – perhaps all I needed was to find a wife, the house with the picket fences, the cars and perhaps some kids a few years later. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to ridicule that way of life or those who want that (in fact I see lots of good in it and perhaps can see myself in the future), but it’s not the only road to walk. Now I may not be on that ‘right track’ anymore but in so many ways I feel as though I’m taking responsibility for my own life and making my own decisions as opposed to succumbing to the dictates of the ‘rat (or rut) race’.

4 comments:

Mark said...

You're starting to sound like a hippy man! That's dangerous talk. I think you better go home and settle down now before it's too late for you. Two weeks vacation a year is enough for anyone and YOU KNOW IT ;o)

Ryan said...

I agree with you that there are alternatives to the rat race - thank God! - but I think it provides a sense of security to many, which is what most of the population craves. Also, could you imagine if everyone rejected the rat race?

Staying in one place and having a solid job doesn't necessarily mean one has to be in a rut. I personally think a rut is a choice - I've met those who have gone abroad and found their own rut. Breaking out of it requires that higher realization that one is in it first, a big step to take. Only then are alternatives possible.

MAVERiCK said...

Ryan (I'm not sure who you are) I agree that a steady job is not necessarily a rut... In fact I worked with Youth for Christ a few years back on one of the teams and I came to realise that staying on the team schedule and travelling from place to place can also become a bit of a rut - one where never standing still is the place where you're stuck.

I guess one of the main ideas behind my blog was not about what one does but the attitude. I don't have an issue with a steady job etc, but rather with the attitude that is the "right" or "best" thing to do, across the board...

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