No shortage of rest areas on the busy hi-tech highway

Coping with the Rat Race

By —— Bio and Archives--November 16, 2007

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The 50ish looking guy sitting next to me on GO train looked like any other frazzled commuter who had put in a hard day’s work. “If only I could score on the Lotto,” he said to me, “I’d get the hell out of this rat-race so fast they’d never know that I was here in the first place.”


Practically everyone I meet these days complains about the extra workload they have to shoulder. Older employees tell me they hope to be offered early retirement with a good severance package. The younger ones, from schoolteachers to nurses to janitors, work under increasing stress as they worry about being laid off from jobs they no longer like, or, in many cases, now hate.

Over and over I hear them whining the same old refrain about winning a lottery and kissing the rat-race good bye. While winning a big lottery would, no doubt, solve our financial problems, we know in our hearts that it’s not going to happen. So the only thing to do to is learn to cope with the so-called “rat- race.”

There’s no denying that the computer-age workplace can be hectic at the best of times, and especially so in the lean and mean mew Millennium where the bottom-line is the new religion. But you don’t have to win a lottery and take off to some imaginary, tropical paradise in order to recharge your batteries. A respite from the madness of the marketplace is much simpler than that. While there may be little chance of escaping the din of the workplace on company time, there’s nothing stopping us from finding peace and quiet in old-fashioned hobbies and pursuits on our own time. Here are just a few of the wonderful things that have defied the winds of change.

Gardening: The feel of the good earth running through your fingers as you plant tomatoes and onions is almost as good as watching your produce bloom. You can dig the soil and plant seeds in the same way that it’s been done for centuries. If you don’t have a garden of your own, you can rent a municipal plot.

Fishing: The whiz of the line, the plop of the lure and trolling to the put-put of a five-horse motor are guaranteed nerve tonics.

Cookouts: barbecuing burgers, and boiling fresh corn-on-the-cob are as low-tech as it gets.

There is bicycling, swimming, horseshoe-pitching, kite flying and many more simple pastimes that haven’t changed one iota over the years. It doesn’t cost a penny to spend an afternoon in the park watching the swans and smelling the flowers or watching exotic games like cricket and bocce. When summer’s done, you can take in an amateur play in a neighborhood theater.

Or try cooking a meal from scratch for a change, instead of plopping one in the microwave. Rent an old movie. Read a few chapters of a good book in bed before you go to sleep. And even if you’re not religious, drop into a small church for a soul-soothing hymn sing. As you can see from this partial list for easy living, anyone can move over into the slow lane on his or her own time. And these pastimes can be enjoyed long into your retirement years.

The fact is, there’s no shortage of rest areas on the busy hi-tech highway, you just have to slow down long enough to notice them. For instance, as I write this article, the aroma of perking, fresh-ground coffee and the soothing music of a quieter age mingle in the air all around me. I have, for the time being, locked out the madness of the marketplace and locked in the sanity of simple living. “A rat-race, you say?” What I say is: “Rats should have it so good.”


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William Bedford -- Bio and Archives | Comments

CFP “Poet in Residence” William Bedford was born in Dublin, Ireland, but has lived in Toronto for most of his life.  His poems and articles have been published in many Canadian journals and in some American publications.

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