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Posted Jan 11 2009 5:40pm

You know what really bothers me? It's people who act no better than hamsters.

You know, hamsters, those little furry rodents that people, usually children, keep as pets. They live their whole lives in a cage and nothing much changes from day to day. They hit the little valve on that water bottle and water comes out. They hit the food bowl and someone has put the pellets there for them. Sometimes they engage in a lot of activity, making their little wheel go 'round and 'round or scurrying through their little tubes, but they're not really going anywhere. And they eliminate all over their habitat knowing that someone else will eventually come and replace all the filth with fresh, clean wood shavings.

Lately, I've been seeing hamsters everywhere I look, sometimes even when I shave in the morning.

For example, when it is 70 degrees and sunny outside, what would you call a bunch of human beings who are inside a gym loping on a treadmill or an elliptical machine because that is what they always do? Hamsters. They were even in there yesterday morning on the elliptical machines when the gym had no power and the machines therefore had no resistance. All they needed was a little water bottle and a bowl of pellets. Hamsters.

And what do you call someone who weighs himself every day for three years, and by all appearances is just as overweight as always because there has been no change in the diet or the routine of reading the paper while slowly peddling a recumbent bicycle for 30 minutes three times each week. Bring on the pellets. That is a hamster.

And then there is the phalanx of waddling office workers, arranged in a cue outside the building before work, at lunch, and at two breaks during the day, breathing nicotine off-gas along with assorted carcinogens until 4:59 when they shut off their computers, hit the road, and go home to eat and smoke on the couch in front of the television before repeating it again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. Looks like a hamster to me. Indeed, it looks like a hamster whose health care I will wind up paying for--sort of cleaning out the wood shavings, if you will.

Pointing a few less fingers and looking a little more in the mirror, what do you call someone who does the same commute to the same job and to the same house every day, but expends little or no effort to improve or change the things he finds unsatisfying, settling instead for predictable pellets that will keep him fed but bored. Classic hamster.

Sure, hamsters can be cute when they're rodents. But people aren't pets. We weren't meant to be taken care of by children or "kept" by anyone else. We aren't suited for cages. We are built to seek our own food, to go places outside the cage, to take risks, conquer challenges.

Sure, the Ironman part of my life is not hamster-like, and in large part, I may have taken on challenges and pain like that in rebellion to becoming a hamster and in an effort to feel really alive. But I have said it before and I'll repeat it now. I want that adventure and conquering spirit to infect the rest of my life. I want to NOT settle in any part of my life.

No more pellets.

No more habitrails.

Now what do I do?
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