I used to own a greyhound as a pet long ago. She was a beautiful animal, and I remember over the time of adopting her, I found out more about greyhounds and their racing history. Greyhounds are bred to race, and after they are done with their racing career, they are often put down, or more recently, adopted out. As racers, the trainers use an instinctual drive of the greyhound to have them be good racers: chasing prey.
On the racetrack, greyhounds are lined up, and in front of them is a pole, with a fake rabbit, or even a rabbit skin, hanging from it. The incentive to run for each of them is to chase after, and hopefully, catch that prey. It urges each of them on to be the fastest one to cross the finish line.
The joke is, not one of them ever catches the prey.
I was thinking of this analogy last night, as I was reflecting on the fact that as human beings, we are forever seeking something outside of ourselves. Whether it is to feel better, to feel peace, to get closer to God, to relieve an urge, or to connect with others.
So for me, there have been times in my life, even very recently, when I have a strong desire to be a published writer. I know that I AM a writer; but the desire to have a book on a shelf in a store, selling madly, occurs to me every now and again.
What is it about being published and famous that appeals to me? Being noticed. Not being invisible or forgotten. Some token outside of myself that will make me feel loved, important, and recognized in the world.
But, just like the prey, dangled before a dozen racing greyhounds, I will never catch it. As long as what I desire the most, peace of heart, and love of self, is something that I seek outside of myself, I will never catch it. Whether I desire approval from others, love, acknowledgment, I won’t find it outside of me.
The kicker is, if I have it within myself, I won’t seek it from outside. Sure, I will always be compelled because I am human, to desire others to notice and acknowledge me. Like the greyhound, driven by its own instincts, it will always chase the rabbit, even after doing so dozens of times. It will always be driven to run toward it, even though it will never catch it.
The light for me is in knowing that although I may always be compelled by my humanness, I also get to keep strengthening my inner sense of self along the way, every day. So, the less that it matters what I try to seek on the outside, the more that I can recognize my own beauty within.