I wish I was a hunter in search of different food
I wish I was the animal which fits into that mood
I wish I was a person with unlimited breath
I wish I was a heartbeat that never comes to rest

Running 3 is a piece of spoken word art which was used repeatedly in Tom Tykwer's 1998 film Lola Rennt. The voices of the piece are Franka Potente (who plays the role of Lola), director Tom Tykwer, and German singer-songwriter Susie van der Meer who remains best known for her contributions to the Run Lola Run soundtrack to this day.

The piece itself is full of imagery, and is presented in a sort of round where many of the couplets are cut and spliced together with later verse, all coupled with a repeating chorus of "Never-I wish... Never say never... I wish." While the piece's true verses (as close as I wish to splice them) contain vivid metaphor of their own right, I think examination of the work at a whole lends to an even greater story.

The very start of Running 3 suggests that this is a story of survival through the eyes of one protagonist. By choosing the Hunter to act as the first manifestation in the piece, we are introduced to a concept of a single person, surviving alone. The basic laws of survival cover things like shelter, food and water, but seldom delve into the deep id of survival - the fact that one must want to survive in order to do so. Just as complex minds require simple games, a person in a survival situation would most likely require variety to keep on; meals of trout, squirrel and bark would only be sustenance for so long before before the rote act of eating became a chore. By wishing for "different food" the protagonist is subtly identifying with their need for something more to help them survive the times.

The line immediately following gives more credence to this idea of hunter as self-saviour. By wishing to be the animal which "fits into that mood" of something new, and something fresh, the initial theme of survival is blended with that of exploration and searching. Both pieces of imagery ending the stanza reinforce this survival motif, with the otherwise unheard of "unlimited breath" and "heartbeat that never comes to rest." Four short lines have painted a compelling portrait of a protagonist who wishes to survive, and therefore may be assumed to currently be in a state closer to apathy.

I wish I was a stranger who understands the sky
I wish I was a starship when Saturn's flying by
I wish I was a princess with armies at her hand
I wish I was a ruler who'd make them understand

Aristotle once documented a story of an early Helenic philosopher named Thales of Miletus. As the story is recounted, Thales is returning to his estate from a dinner party which ran quite late into the evening, eyes turned upward in awe of the moon (The Moon Illusion is a commonly reported, yet seldom understood phenomenon. When the monthly appearance of the full moon coincides with a particularly "mid" night rising or setting of the moon, the moon will appear up to three times larger than usually. This is because the human eye comes with a built in geometry calculator - in two dimensions. Your brain will interpret an object on the horizon as being closer than a similarly sized object in the middle of the sky overhead). During his heavenly inspection, Thales falls into a well, and shouts for slaves from his property, one of whom runs over directly to help him out of the well. The slave asks Thales how it is he came to arrive within the well, and Thales answers truthfully he was looking at the stars and moon, trying to understand him. To which the childlike wonder of a reply "But master, how can you hope to understand the heavens, when you cannot even master your own two feet?"

This is the story which instantly leaps to mind upon reading the first two lines of the second verse. The 'stranger who understands the sky' is a subtle concession from the protagonist that, in contrast to Thales of Miletus, she has spent too much time with introspection of her surroundings at ground level, and has thus perhaps missed out on a larger world about her. Had the protagonist taken time to also understand the sky, we are given our first hint that the situation which led to her desiring a different type of food may have been prevented from occurring. The second line reinforces this line of thought, with the futuristic images of a defensive starship and an inexorable planet flying through the galaxy. Taking the object before the subject, it is as if the protagonist has come to terms with the fact that some colossus is bearing down upon her, and it is her reflexive wish that she had a more defensible position from which to weather the storm.

The remainder of the second verse shares one characteristic - gusto. The 'Princess with armies at her hand' conceivably also has the issue of a faceless they to convince she is deserving of her position of power. Given what we learned of the protagonist in the initial stanza, about the desire to survive and break free of the rut her life is mired, this is a prerequisite wish. Before the protagonist can break free, she needs the strength to do so. Once she had such strength, such armies, she would then be able to change her station and become the hunter she yearns to be in the first verse.

I wish I was a writer who sees what is yet unseen
I wish I was a prayer expressing what I mean
I wish I was a forest of trees that do not hide
I wish I was a clearing, no secrets left inside

The third stanza of Running 3 renders me inarticulate. I feel the dilation of my mind's eye each time I read the four lines which comprise this third verse. The themes flash like an 1880's photographer's kit: writer, prayer, forest, clearing.

Said another way: predeterminism, hope, individualism, extroversion.

Quite the turn for a little poem about a hunter/princess.

The transition, due to the vividness of the previous imagery, is close to seamless. The themes are simply grander than the previous pair of stanzas. The writer documenting a future which has not yet occurred is nothing new: major religions have always had their prophets, epic fantasy and science fiction literature has always had "destiny" to live up to. This leads quite elegantly to the next wish, of being a prayer. Just as the writer documenting the future is a vessel of destiny, so is a prayer the vessel of hope. The prayer itself, whether it reaches the ears of its intended or not, holds no power. Rather, it is the prayers' belief that such a message can change their status which, in the end, has the power to do so.

The final two lines are arboreal in nature. By wishing to be a forest which does not hide, as many a forest could be accused of doing when viewed from above their canopy, our protagonist is expressing a need to retain their individual nature. The protagonist wants very badly to become more themselves in the near future, and won't let themselves remain part of a collective to be carried along in order to do so. By wishing to be the clearing, with nothing left to hide, I believe the protagonist is signaling her desire to face down all her faults, conquer all fears, and change their life for the better.

I wish I was a hunter in search of different food
I wish I was the animal which fits into that mood

Small text are select lyrics from Running 3

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