Lessons From A Well-Traveled Hamster
Life lessons come from unexpected places. This week, my reminders for living came from our little pet hamster, Oreo. As we prepare to move our entire household across the country, it has not gone unnoticed by me that the smallest member of the household is likely enduring the most. When I pick him up out of his habitat and look into his beady little eyes, I feel like he is wise beyond his size. If Oreo could talk I do believe he would have some things to teach me about getting through this transition, and this life. These are the life lessons from a well-traveled hamster, making his way like the rest of us.
Don’t complain. I’m not sure how a hamster complains but I am certain that we humans are capable of doing a whole lot of it. Frankly, some of us complain on a daily basis about just about everything. Life might proceed a little easier with less complaints. How often has complaining actually made something change, or made you feel better? Venting? Ok. There is a time and a place for letting others know the problems. Complaining is venting gone awry and it just isn’t productive.
Be flexible. Be ready to change your plans or your ideas or your approach. Poor little Oreo was supposed to fly out on Friday but the heat wave in Seattle kept all cargo pet travelers grounded. It didn’t matter that he had packed his bags and gotten nicely settled into his travel carrier. After several hours at the airport in a holding pattern, Oreo was brought back home. And he was fine. Plans change. And it all works out in the end somehow. Allow that to be the guiding emotion, not fear of the unknown or angst about things being different than you initially planned.
Find something to do. Time actually feels like it is going backwards when we are idle, watching the clock, waiting for something to happen. Keeping your mind or your hands busy allows you to honor your time and get through an uncomfortable waiting period with your sanity intact. I peeked into Oreo’s travel cage when we were checking him in and while I knew I wouldn’t find him reading a book, he was seemingly organizing his new space, relocating the sunflower seeds to the back corner in a pile all together. Instinct? Probably. But in my mind, Oreo was keeping himself busy to pass the time. That is my kind of hamster.
Never give up. We sometimes need a reminder every now and again to keep trying new approaches to get what we want out of life. I realize that Oreo’s options are limited, to say the least, but the narrative we have built for his many efforts to climb out of his habitat is his relentless spirit that won’t be deterred from reaching his goal.
Be easy to love. Be generous with your time and talents. Let others in so they get to know you and appreciate you for being exactly who you are. Be nice. Make it hard for people to want to be anything less than dear to you or anywhere other than where you are. Oreo is cute by nature, but his nature is also very cute. If we can keep our natures cute, we won’t ever have to worry about being alone.
Be brave. Don’t be afraid to march boldly forward. Or if marching is not your style, don’t be afraid to speak your mind, or write down your thoughts, or admit that you were wrong, or accept that you have to work alone, or a whole host of other things. Bravery is not just the big grand things that we do once in a while with dramatic music playing in the background. Bravery is living. I have heard my daughter say to Oreo - “You are a small hamster in a big world.” I think we all feel like Oreo every now and again.
Enjoy the ride. Life is far from perfect. We find ourselves in places and situations that we never imagined. We find ourselves sad or hurt. Hardship finds us no matter how fast we run. But our lives, by and large, are full of goodness. Once we settle into the idea that life is going to be a rollercoaster, we can sit back and enjoy the ups and downs. It is ok to scream or laugh. It is perfectly acceptable to grab someone’s hand for support. You might even throw up. But you will live to tell the tale and do it all over again.