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    updated 8.29.11

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Death by Spin

Yesterday, we enjoyed what I referred to via twitter as a lo-fi day.  That’s lo-fi as opposed to hi-fi.

A hi-fi day is exemplified by a buzzing Blackberry.    Constant movement.  Things needed attention. A lot gets done, but it’s always to the demand of another device:   ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME! LOOK OVER HERE!   Most of my days are hi-fi.

A lo-fi day leaves the Blackberry on the nightstand.  It involves pancakes with crazy good blueberry/pomegranate sauce over them.  It involves more face to face talk with people you are related to, less thumb typed discussion with people you don’t know.  Our low-fi day wasn’t without progress, but it certainly was at a self-directed pace.

I don’t know if I would want to convert to a full time lo-fi lifestyle, but I will tell you that at 9pm last night I was more rested than I am after sleeping a full night most of the time.  I had spent the entire day with my wife and kids.  I’d avoided my computer for most of the day.  I didn’t think about long term planning (with the exception of where to place my final serve on the ping pong table).  I thought about  – and deeply enjoyed – the now.  It felt pretty good.  I would like to visit this place again.

In a facebook discussion with a friend, I mentioned that I was rediscovering how doing less can mean more.  In further conversation, I observed that a hamster wheel is a horrible place to die.    What I meant by that is that too easily, I fall into the trap of confusing busy-ness with taking care of business.  I equate emails sent and interest generated with forward momentum.

So does our friend, the hamster.

We’ve all watched the furry little critters.  Hamsters are essentially mice that have been endowed with a small measure of cute, thereby moving them up the Petsmart Pyramid from snake food to Adorable! Pets! for Children!.  In another culture, they’d be a snack, if not for a snake, for a family….but this is America.  We love our hamsters.  We buy them the Hamster Castle 2011, featuring a climbing tower, observation deck, and of course, the hamster wheel.

And on that wheel they run.  They like the feeling of wind in their whiskers.  They like the stretching excercise.  And they like the feeling that their activity is getting them somewhere….when it’s not.

I’m convinced that any hamster that recognized this deception would probably fall into a deep depression.  All that effort, all that trouble, and going nowhere.

My observations, based on my own propensity to play the hamster:

If you’re running harder than you were a year ago but the scenery looks the same, you’re on the wheel. Humans on the wheel find ways to work harder and get the same results.  Faithfulness is a virtue, but fruitlessness isn’t God’s plan.

If you feel like stopping – even for a second – could be painful, you’re on the wheel. Little is trickier in the world than the hamster wheel dismount.  When I was a kid, I had a little critter who – after running for minutes at top hamster speed – would grab on the wheel with all four claws and complete about four disorienting rotations of the wheel before slowing to a stop, then stumble off.  I’ve stayed in roles too long at times less out of a sense of duty and more out of fear of what would happen if I stopped.

If you’re running in place because you fear that if you stopped, someone else would run in that same place, perhaps faster than you, you’re on the wheel. Hamsters have a strange social structure.  Strangely human, that is.  Running on the wheel somehow denotes a weird hamster authority.  “Hey, look at Fuzzy!  He’s running hard – he must be somebody!”  And of course, Fuzzy won’t stop because if it does, Cuddles gets his place.   Fear keeps him running – fear of losing position among the hamsters, among the people, or among the church staff.

The hamster wheel is not a new toy or trap.   I’m convinced that shortly after naming the hamster in the garden, Adam said “We’ve gotta make us a wheel!”   Hamsters have been running hard and going nowhere for a long time.

The smart ones take stock of their situation and get off the wheel once in a while.

Same thing with the smart hamsters.


One Response

  1. I love this!

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