Yes, I am the hare who lost. No, I did not get lazy or complacent. Let me explain.
I was hopping over the meadows near the hills, and looked back to realize that the tortoise was nowhere to be seen. Assured of my healthy lead, I decided to take a short nap under the large banyan tree near the pond.
The anticipation of the race had kept me up all night. For days, that old silly tortoise had boasted about his ability to plod for hundreds of miles without stopping. Life is a marathon, he said, not a sprint. I wanted to show him that I could run both far and fast.
The shade of the tree was like an umbrella. I found an almost oval rock, covered it with grass and turned it into a makeshift pillow. I could hear the leaves rustling and the bees buzzing – it felt they were conspiring to put me to sleep. And it didn’t take them long to succeed.
I saw myself drifting on a log in a beautiful stream of water. As I came near the shore, I found an old man, with a flowing beard, sitting on a rock in a meditative pose. He opened his eyes, gave me an all-knowing smile and asked:
“Who are you?”
“I am a hare. I am running a race.”
“To prove that I am the fastest.”
“Why do you want to prove that you are the fastest?”
“So that I get a medal which will give me status which will give me money which will get me food…”
“There is already so much food around.” He pointed to the forest in the distance. “Look at all those trees laden with fruits.”
“I also want respect. I want to be remembered as the fastest hare who ever lived.”
“Do you know the name of the fastest deer or the largest elephant or the strongest lion who lived a thousand years before you?”
“Today you have been challenged by a tortoise. Tomorrow, it will be a snake. Then it will be a zebra. Will you keep racing all your life to prove that you are the fastest?”
“Hmm. I didn’t think about it. I don’t want to race all my life.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to sleep under a banyan tree on a makeshift pillow while the leaves rustle and the bees buzz. I want to hop over the meadows near the hills and swim in the pond.”
“You can do all these things this very moment. Forget the race. You are hare today but you will be gone tomorrow.”
I woke up from my sleep. The ducks in the pond looked happy. I jumped into the pond, startling them for a moment. They looked at me quizzically.
“Weren’t you racing with the tortoise today?”
“It’s pointless. An exercise in futility. All I want is to be here. Hopefully someday, someone will tell the world my story. That I lost the race but got back my life.”