In Lewis Carroll's book, Through The Looking Glass, there's a scene that's always stuck in my brain. It's not in any of the adaptations I've seen, but the scene rings true for me, and the scene is incredibly resonant.
In the book, Alice meets the Red Queen, who is not a playing card, but rather, a chess piece. After some amusing exchanges, this happens:
Just at this moment, somehow or other, they began to run.
Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began: all she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying "Faster!" but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had no breath to say so.
The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. "I wonder if all the things move along with us?" thought poor puzzled Alice. And the Queen seemed to guess her thoughts, for she cried, "Faster! Don't try to talk!"
Not that Alice had any idea of doing that. She felt as if she would never be able to talk again, she was getting so out of breath: and still the Queen cried, "Faster! Faster!" and dragged her along. "Are we nearly there?" Alice managed to pant out at last.
"Nearly there!" the Queen repeated. "Why, we passed it ten minutes ago! Faster!" And they ran on for a time in silence, with the wind whistling in Alice's ears, and almost blowing her hair off her head, she fancied.
"Now! Now!" cried the Queen. "Faster! Faster!" And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy. The Queen propped her against a tree, and said kindly, "You may rest a little now."
Alice looked round her in great surprise. "Why, I do believe we've been under this tree all the time! Everything's just as it was!"
"Of course it is," said the Queen: "what would you have it?"
"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else -- if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Not to correct poor Alice, but I think there are plenty of times in this country where things seem to work exactly as they do on the Red Queen's chessboard. We run and work and labor and try just to have things stay the same, at it seems like the effort to make something actually change is Herculean.