The Race vs. The Search

Life in the fullest sense is not a race. It is a search. A race is fast, and by definition everyone in a race has agreed to run in the same direction. A search, by contrast, is slow, and the best searchers are the ones who have the courage to depart from the standard path sometimes and walk into the woods alone. One will necessarily find things there that most people can never see, since they are always running at full speed, straight ahead, on the same path together. 

Furthermore, a race has a predefined finish line, which is to say that everyone knows the goal in advance, and no one may alter it, although he did not choose it. The goals of a search, on the other hand, may be modified or even radically reoriented along the way, depending on what the searcher finds on the path he is investigating now. In a race, therefore, each step is primarily a fight against fatigue and hopelessness — an effort to “hold one’s form” — as one struggles unwaveringly toward a predetermined and expected end. In a search, each step must be taken carefully and attentively for its own sake, with focused curiosity, as it may hold a clue that will send the searcher off in a new, more promising direction.

Of course, when someone wanders off into the woods alone, slowly, the people running on the straight road together will shout, “Hey, where are you going? This is the road everyone takes!” If their intentions are kind, the searcher has to smile, thank them for their concern — and then keep walking slowly into his woods.

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