Friday, November 21, 2008

In Celebration of the Hamster; The Stufessional’s Ancestor

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Excerpt from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Prior to our plugged in, maxed out, over-achiever mindset existence there was the hamster, likely the Stufessional’s ancestor evolving by natural selection. Nearing the end of my rope one day, I retreated into the recesses of my mind to ponder our ancestor and marvel at how we broke off from that lineage to form performance-oriented type-A superhuman.

Rooted in pragmatism and loathing inefficiency, I simply dismissed the hamster as an idiot when I was younger. Until I began to feel more and more like the idiot hamster recently, I assumed the fruitless running on his wheel each night was born out of a desire to get somewhere, anywhere, but my brother’s smelly pre-pubescent room.

What cracked open an entry into hamster enlightenment was the realization that hamsters don’t have emotions. That’s right—they only have instinct. Instinct seemed like a viable reason to go back and re-think the value of the hamster wheel.

I wasn’t there the day my mom bought the hamster for my brother. I don’t know if the wheel was optional for exercise, but I also don’t know of any hamster that doesn’t have a wheel. They just go together. The funny scene from Chevy Chase’s European Vacation “look kids, there’s Big Ben” overtakes my mind when thinking about any repetitious task. The hamster never seemed to mind repetition though, even when he went nowhere. It was like Big Ben was brand new each night.

What drives this small animal to never miss a night on his wheel? What keeps him in a perfect disciplined routine in the absence of movement?

He has promises to keep to himself that only he knows about. He enjoys the journey, rather than the destination. He defines achievement by his perseverance. He is self-driven. He won’t sleep until he is done.

The hamster went further on his wheel each night than I realized. He also showed me the way to go on from here.

--Lynn Johnson
Stufessional and admirer of the hamster

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