The famous story of the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’ was written, long back, by Aesop.
In this story, the hare had lost the race. Thereafter, an adage was coined, when everyone in the world started quoting the example of Tortoise by saying, the slow and steady wins the race that spearheads the value of persistence and dedication.
But, no one has ever bothered to ask the Hare his version of the story. So let me tell you the story from a different point of view. I once met the Hare and sat down with him for a heart to heart talk. And this is what the hare had to say after we spent the better part of a balmy summer afternoon getting to know each other.
It was a wonderful experience talking to the hare and this is what he had to say.
“Yes, I am the hare who lost the race. No, I did not get lazy or complacent. Let me explain how I saw things.
I was hopping over the meadows near the hills and looked back to realize that the tortoise was nowhere in sight.
Assured of my healthy lead, I decided to take a short nap under the large banyan tree near the pond.
The pressure of the race had kept me up all night. For days, that old silly tortoise had boasted about his ability to plod for hundreds of miles without stopping.
Life is a marathon, said the hare and not a sprint. So, I wanted to show him that I could run both far and fast.
The shade of the tree was like an umbrella. I found an oval rock, covered it with grass, and turned it into a makeshift pillow.
I could hear the leaves rustling and the bees buzzing – I felt they were collaborating and even conspiring to put me to sleep. And it didn’t take them long to succeed.
I saw myself floating on a log in a beautiful stream of water. As I came near the shore, I found an old man, with a flowing beard, sitting on a rock in a meditative pose. He opened his eyes, gave me an all-knowing smile, and asked:
“Who are you?”
“I am a hare that is running a race.”
“Just to prove to all the creatures in the jungle that I am the fastest.”
“But, why do you want to prove that you are the fastest?” Asked the old man.
“So that I get a medal which will give me status which will give me money and that’ll get me food…”
“There is already so much food around.” He pointed at the forest located at a close distance. “Look at all those trees laden with fruits and nuts, all those leafy branches. It’s all for you. Go eat.”
“But I also want respect. I want to be remembered as the fastest hare who ever lived.”
“Do you know the name of the fastest deer or the largest elephant or the strongest lion who lived a thousand years before you?” Asked the old man.
“No.” Said the hare.
“Today you have been challenged by a tortoise. Tomorrow, it will be a snake. Then it will be a zebra. Will you keep racing all your life to prove that you are the fastest?” Asked the old man.
“Hmm. I didn’t think in that manner. Sorry, I don’t want to race all my life.”
“So then, what do you want to do?”
“I want to sleep under a banyan tree on a makeshift pillow while the leaves rustle and the bees buzz. I want to hop over the meadows near the hills and swim in the pond.”
“You can do all these things this very moment, so forget the race. Life is so uncertain. You are here today, but you will be gone tomorrow.” Said the old man.
And I suddenly woke up from my sleep. The ducks in the pond looked happy. I jumped into the pond, startling them for a moment. They looked at me quizzically and asked.
“Weren’t you supposed to be racing with the tortoise today?”
“It’s a pointless race. An exercise in futility. All I want in life is to be here.” Said the hare.
Hopefully, someday, someone will tell the world my story. That I lost the rat-race but won the life race.
The idea of a good life is a balance … friends. Hare tells us that.