The term rat-race has been used to describe the labor situation that has been imposed by neoliberalism: long shifts in tense and demanding environments, excessive time spent commuting (which leaves even less time for family life and/or friends), low or scandalously low wages, little or no social security, etc., and yet, deluded and innocent, we keep going on such a lousy career.
But not everyone, of course.
In this space I share the story of a dear friend who worked as a creative director in one of the most prestigious advertising companies in Mexico City; he had a good salary and was considered by many to be a "successful" man. However, he had reached a point in which, on one hand, making people believe that they needed to buy certain products in order to reach or, at least, approach a quite advertised happiness made him nauseous; on the other hand, he realized that being the author of the most popular campaigns didn’t exclude him from that aspirational race, that is, that crazy competition to acquire more and more stuff, newer, more expensive and more exclusive. Determined to change his life, he cut off his ties, from the roots, to the world where he belonged: he quit his job and got rid of all his belongings; he went to live with his beautiful wife and their three small children to a fishing village on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Their house was more a hut than anything else and he stopped being the successful executive to become a fisherman.
He was a fisherman for some time, the time needed to learn another way of living.
When I met him he had left Oaxaca and was living in Morelos; he was in the process of acquiring only what he really needed, which, I must say, wasn’t much.
His story, his quest for a simpler and spiritual life, has always amazed me; he has been an example and a reference that another life, a true life, is possible.