Two brothers were racing down an open stretch of desert. They had been racing for as long as either of them could remember, and neither could remember the start of their race, nor why they were racing. If they looked behind them, all they could see was desert, and desert was all that stretched before them with no finish line in sight. Still, they knew they were racing, and they knew they had to win. So they continued to compete against one another, trying to beat one another, hoping to be the victor when the finish line finally came into view.
The race had been going on for some years now, decades even, and the elder of the brothers was growing weary of the seemingly endless competition. He pondered, as he raced, why they were racing each other, and what there was to be won by winning. And he kept pondering for the next few kilometres, all the while making sure to keep up with his brother, lest he gain an advantage.
The pondering brother decided that if they couldn’t remember why they were competing in the first place, then maybe they shouldn’t be competing at all, or maybe they were never in a competition to begin with. For how can you compete with someone without knowing what the competition is, and what you are competing for? Maybe the brothers were both mistaken in thinking that because they were running alongside each other, they were racing. Maybe, instead, they were there to help each other. He wondered if they could have been there to support each other this whole time, running next to each other to encourage each other, to make sure that they both made it to wherever this mystical finish line was together. Or what if there was no finish line at all and they could stop competing and rest instead?
More desert raced past, and the older brother grew more certain that they were not racing. So he tried to tell his brother his theory. His brother could not remember why they were competing either, and listened intently to his brother’s reasoning. But he remained doubtful. His whole life has been dedicated to beating his older brother to the finish line. For as long as he could remember, the only thing he could remember, was that he was running this race, and that he must beat his brother. Now these theories were trying to fill him with doubt, but he was an impetuous being, and didn’t like to think about theories too much. And he was suspicious of his brothers motives. In his mind, his brother would stoop to any tactic to beat him at this race, and he wasn’t going to let himself be fooled by his older brother’s trickery. So he continued on racing, in fact he raced with renewed vigour, proud of himself for thwarting his brothers lies.
And the older brother continued to run beside him. This time not competing, but reasoning, desperately trying to convince his brother that their race was futile. That they would only be able to finish this race and rest finally once they realised they should do so cooperatively. That they weren’t competing, and could choose to end their struggle any time they wanted to, together.
Still, the younger brother refused to believe him. He could not and would not doubt his entire life’s purpose. Reason be damned, he didn’t need to remember why they were racing, all he knew was that they were. And that he was going to win. So they continued running. The younger brother racing, the older convincing.
After much time, more kilometres, and many desperate pleas the older brother grew too tired. He was tired of running, tired of ‘competing’ and tired of trying to persuade his brother elsewise. He gave his brother one last chance to stop; to end the competition and support each other; to forget their race, or at least to help each other to the finish line they still could not see, cooperatively instead of exhausting each other. But the younger brother kept on racing. And the older brother had no choice but to give up. Like the parallel lines they were running, the brothers’ minds were destined never to meet.
The older brother slowed his pace, and eventually, with great sadness stopped. He stood and watched his brother race ahead and disappear over the horizon, alone, winning.