The Rat Race

“If you win the rat race, if you come in first place, then a rat is all you’ll be”. This is a quote from Devotchka’s song, the Clockwise Witness. I found this to be a profound insight to ponder.

What is the “Rat Race”? Rat-Race-2

The rat race is a term often referring to a meaningless pursuit in life. The idea is that rats trying to escape an experiment either in a maze or on a wheel of endless running is analogous to our own lives in modern society: you go to work to pay for your car, you buy your car to go to work.

Most of us are caught up in an endless cycle of thinking we need more. An ever-consumptive state keeps us empty and yearning for more.

Don’t I need to be in this “Rat Race”? 

Perhaps for the short-term, or to an extent. Surely we all need to eat. But we tend to think we need more than we really do. A big screen (then flat screen, then 3D) television, a brand new automobile, a new brand-name bag, or whatever else you’ve been sold to desire.

What I’m saying is that people can cut their need to be in the rat race, or the degree they need to be in the rat race, by first cutting our own desires. The power is up to us. The things you think you need are in your mind. Have you ever sat back and wondered, “What do I really need?” These things don’t tend to be a car, television, or any other material possession. Oftentimes it’s a desire to love and be loved, to spend time with family, to live life with integrity.

And here we are, year after year, oftentimes in jobs we hate, working more hours than we’d like to, feeling pressured someone might steal our jobs. Or maybe we’re looking for work, feeling discouraged and unneeded by society, your self-esteem waning. Life doesn’t have to be like this. It’s all a choice.


What is the purpose of life? This is a question people rarely stop to think about. Usually we’re all-consumed in our over-active, over-entertained, over-convenient lifestyles. Do people really ponder what they really want or don’t want in life? Put away the phone and enjoy the morning breeze on your face as you commute to work. Let your mind take you where it will. Let your imagination wander and bring you to a life that you truly want.

Maybe you always wanted to be a writer. Or maybe you want to travel to India or Africa and help children become educated. I’m a strong advocate for people to pursue their true desires in life. If you truly want something, you can accomplish anything. Where there is a will, there is a way. Now it may be easier for some than others. Many of us have anchors tying us back to a certain life. But try to think of a way. Use your brain for what it’s supposed to be – a tool. Feeding it candy like reality television will result in an inactive, untrained brain.

At least you’re here. Reading this. That means something. Think about what your true passion is, what your true purpose in life is. Life is more than the 9-5, and forgotten dreams. It’s amazing, it truly is.

Now ponder this – “..if you win the rat race, then a rat is all you will be”.

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