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Mental Antidote to ‘Rat Race Syndrome' -- Aphorisms
We all suffer from "rat race syndrome." It's just a question of how bad we've got it.
Because the rat race long ago overloaded our senses, the core symptom
of rat race syndrome, or RRS, is impulsiveness — impulsive
thinking, impulsive actions. As we careen and spasm through our daily
lives, our thoughts and emotions trample one another like bug-eyed
shoppers unleashed in one big "Everything Must Go!"
This is just the way we're supposed to be, too. Good little
bobble-headed consumers, waiting for the next prod, poke or push from
an ad — those carnies of capitalism. Ads swarm through our days
and nights like bees on PCP. We run, but we can't hide.
APHORISMS PUT THE BRAKES ON RAT RACE
Since RRS makes us so impulsive, we need something to slow us down and
restore our capacity to reflect. We need mental brakes. And since we're
all modern here, which means we have no time or money, the brakes have
to be handy, easy to use and free.
The Lord knew long ago we were headed this way, so he gave us aphorisms
— the oldest form of literature. (The "a" is short, as in rat.)
An aphorism is a brief, pithy phrase or two with a philosophic twist.
They distill meaning and often wisdom, too, down to a raindrop. They're
the dwarf stars of literature. A mote weighs tons.
They range all over the map because they stake their territory in
everything human and often express the author's individuality, as well.
Here are a few examples, taken from "The Faber Book of Aphorisms," edited by W.H. Auden and Louis Kronenberger:
— "It is easier to make certain things legal than to make them legitimate." — Nicolas Chamfort
— "Credulity is the man's weakness but the child's strength." — Charles Lamb
— "Burning stakes do not lighten the darkness." — Stanislaw Lec
Good aphorisms take the mind by surprise; that's the function of the "twist," sometimes accomplished by puns.
They vivify our language and sharpen our thinking. They can make us
better writers, and they make us laugh, too. And did we say they
alleviate RRS? (Some you can share with your kids. Challenge them! More
thinking, less texting!)
A few aphorists — people who write aphorisms — walk among
us, ministering to the beleaguered multitudes. Here are some names and
links to help you, too, fight back against RRS.
— James Geary, at JamesGeary.com. Geary is the ultimate authority
on aphorisms, and he offers many examples at his site. He is also The
New York Times bestselling author of "The World in a Phrase: A Brief
History of the Aphorism."
— Yahia Lababidi (http://amzn.to/tsEDYB). See his thought-provoking collection, "Signposts to Elsewhere."
— Greg Linster, at http://aphoristiccocktails.com.
— James Richardson, at http://bit.ly/vz6HWc.
— The World Aphorism Organization, at worldaphorism.org.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book is
"Work at Home Now," a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer
additional guidance on finding home-based work at
www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate
writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at
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