«Run, rabbit, run, dig that hole, forget the sun»
Breathe, Pink Floyd
«Life is just what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans»
Beautiful Boy, John Lennon
We do not live, we run.
We run all the time, to get around to doing something, to seeing somebody, to paying for something, to listening to something, to learning something, to reading something, anything.
From the moment we open our eyes, until we close them, we are on the run.
Even the moments when we unwind, in our free time, we have to do something.
“What are you doing?”
(the most worrisome answer)
“What are you doing?”
“I’m on the run”
(the most common answer)
If you do nothing for an hour, just staring at the wall or the tree opposite, you feel pangs of guilt.
If you are seen being in such a state for an hour, doing nothing, just staring at the wall or the tree opposite, you’ll be recommended to take antidepressants.
Because aside from the tasks you have to do, besides your duties, you could make good use of this time by reading, listening to music, doing some sports – instead of wasting your time.
As if reverie is tantamount to wasted life.
As if the rest of our life, when we are always on the run, is an earned life.
We even nourish our children with the ideal of unflagging effort.
Stimuli, even more stimuli, a barrage of stimuli from the cradle, for fear of not listening to Mozart, for fear of not speaking by the age of two, and after that here come more stimuli, educational games and reading and musical times tables and extracurricular activities and constructive games (as if games could be anything else) and DVD and tablet and sports and two foreign languages from an early age (because they absorb better), our children are on our heels.
We run and so they do.
You have to do something all the time, not to waste your time, do not waste your time.
But these empty hours are man’s need.
When we clear our head, we get closer to our kernel.
Because everything we learned and everything we learn, everything we do and everything we strive to get round to doing (all that you give, all that you deal, all that you buy -beg, borrow or steal),are but garments of the brain and when overloaded, it inevitably breaks down at some point.
Mental illnesses are the pandemic of the modern civilization. Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias and, above all, stress.
Because we run. We run to catch up with life and we don’t realize that life has stayed behind.
What we are after is the fata-morgana of the expectations that we should have.
Because we must be successful, we must have more money, we have to be cultured-smart-beautiful-toned-happy-joyful, our kids must be the smartest, we must outdo all the others, have more money than the others, be more cultured-smart-beautiful-toned-happy-joyful than the others…
We have to do, we must be, we must always have something more and we’re on the run to get it and we struggle to get this something more, this big one, and finally down the line comes a moment when you realize that you have lost that small and “a little less” you had.
You didn’t enjoy your body and your youth, because you had always wanted to be thinner, more beautiful, sexier, more Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.
But when you’re eighty years old and you look at the pictures of your youth, you realize that you were more beautiful than you thought back then.
You didn’t enjoy your partner because he was bellyaching all the time and didn’t make enough money, he wasn’t as romantic-handsome-amorous as he should and you didn’t spent enough time with him, the Run left no time for that.
But when you’re eighty and he isn’t here anymore, you reminisce about his grumbling and the stupid way he used to say to you “Of course I love you. We’ve said that before.”
You didn’t enjoy your children, because you had to take them to pre-school, allowing you to run to offer them everything, and you had to prepare them for kindergarten and well prepare them for primary school; you had to take care they learned English-music-theatre-ballet-computers and they had to study all day long to make it to university and then the nest is empty before you even know it.
And when you’re eighty, you look at the pictures of your children and realize that you didn’t have enough of hugging them, you didn’t get round to playing with them because you had to run and they had to run too.
You look back and see you did nothing.
You didn’t see your friends, you didn’t take the time to understand your parents, you didn’t fall in love as much as you wanted to, you didn’t dance, you didn’t do any of the things you considered important when you were a child.
This seems strange. You ran all the time but you weren’t on time.
Why did you run then? To pay all of your bills? But you’re still in debt and new bills keep coming.
You understand that you ran to survive.
Excuse me for saying this, but now that you are eighty there is no time for remorse.
There is only a little time left to live, don’t waste it regretting what you didn’t live.
After all, that’s the nature of time, you are always short of it, no matter how old you are.
Take a deep breath and clear your mind.
Don’t run anymore. Hold on!
If you are not eighty, if you have little children, take them by the hand, hug them, play with them. Before you know it, they won’t be children anymore and they won’t want you to hold their hand.
You won’t be young, alive, for too long. Life lasts no more than the blink of an eye, no matter how fast you run.
Stop! Take a breath.
(“The loneliness of the long distance runner” is a story written by Alan Sillitoe. It was adapted for a film by Tony Richardson in 1962, and into a song by Iron Maiden.)
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas
Edited by Jackie Pert