How many of you have read Alice in Wonderland? Yes of course, all of us have read it at some point in our childhood days. Back then, it looked stupid. I mean, the Wonderland was a classic nonsense. And it amused me in the beginning. As a kid, I laughed at the funny characters and pitied poor Alice. Then I grew up, and in my teens when I happened to come across the story again, I laughed at the story for its unexplainable and weird characters. And now, as I have begun to understand things better, I have realized that the weird dialogues and characters carry some meaning with them which is for us to find. And now, I laugh at the story for fooling me in my teenage years. And I believe that all of us have a different Alice and a comprehensible Wonderland to explore as we grow up.
I remember reading about the Red Queen in the book. The Red Queen who runs incredibly fast but never seems to get anywhere. She tells Alice that in her country, it is necessary for her to keep running so that she can stay in the same place. In her very words, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Now how does that sound? Implausible and funny, right? I mean running and staying at one place are two very contrary ideas. So in a literal sense, this does sound mad. But wait look at it the other way.
What do we do with our lives? We run. We work hard. We go places. We run from offices to workshops to homes all day and all night. Why? To earn money. Why do we earn money? To buy things, to purchase luxuries, to have everything we want. Now why do we have this urge to buy everything? Why do we need things in our homes? Because we want to live in comfort. What is comfort? Comfort is when you don’t have to run. Comfort is when you are stable. Stable is when you stay at one place. Why does the Red Queen keep running? To stay at one place. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
There is another aspect to this commonly known as the Red Queen Contest. It can happen between any two things which try to outmatch each other. Like the police and criminals. Have you ever wondered why do the police forces get trained every six months or so? It is because they need to be better than the criminals. And what do the criminals do? They hatch better plans to outmatch the trained police. This is a kind of competition without any limits, without any finish line. Both the sides are indulged in a continuous run to defeat each other. Why? Because they want it to come to a standstill. The police want to uproot the criminals from the system, and the criminals want to fool the police so that they can lay their hands on whatever they want. Both the sides strive for it to stop by being better. That’s it. That’s the race. That’s the Red Queen Contest. Something that can never stop and yet something whose sole purpose is stopping.
And now, I have this third perception about this. We are born, we grow up, we grow bigger and we die. In between all this, we get dressed properly, we eat proper food and we live beneath a shelter. Why? So that we can stay alive. So that we can always keep pace with the world. We have this little thing in our minds: when others grow, we must grow too. And it’s a continuous process. But picture this, the world has stopped growing. People don’t take care of themselves anymore. They don’t want to grow. Now, would you take efforts to grow up? Of course not. That it is where it will stop. But it doesn’t. It cannot. Right from the beginning of life on this planet, we are all growing and developing. We adapt ourselves to atmosphere so that we can survive. And our growth stops only when we die. Death is rest. And resting is being stable. So basically, the whole race is about living which leads us to death. We compete with each other and strive to be better. Why? Because we see others doing the same. Because someone began this race and we should complete it. We should run.
That’s life. It’s about running so that we can stop. We live so that we can die. We run in hopes that someone will blow the whistle soon and tell us that the race is over. Everyone hopes the same and that’s why, no one can think of blowing the whistle.
I believe the Red Queen kept running not because she needed to stay at a place, but because she saw everyone else in her country running like that. But then, Lewis Carroll knows better of course. I can just make a wild guess.
By the way, I have a little advice for you all: run faster. 😉