Running the Hamster Wheel
When It’s 93 Degrees—Inside
The air-conditioning died two weeks ago on Saturday afternoon. I knew the repair would be pricey. I’d avoided the freon leak repair too long. No longer could I afford to refill the freon. I had to get the leak beneath the concrete slab of my house fixed. I was daunted knowing I faced a $1200-plus repair. However, that despair was minimal as I watched the thermostat creep up, up, up inside on an August day in Central Florida. Every window was open, the doors were open, the fans were spinning, and it was 93 degrees inside.
In spite of being wilted, I had to meet deadlines. I edited until my computer was hot to the touch, and knew that wouldn’t work. It’s a desktop, so skipping off to the nearest Starbucks wasn’t an option. Instead, at 8 p.m. that Saturday evening, I began the race to find a window unit before every store closed at 9 p.m. Sebastian Walmart, none. Vero Beach Walmart, none. Home Depot, no, too expensive. Lowe’s, no, again too expensive. Best Buy? Maybe. I found the last unit tucked in a corner on the floor in the rear of the store. The clerk carried it to the counter, where I paid for it. He asked if I needed a cart to get it to my car. Five-foot, two, 115-pound, weakling that I am, I said, “No. I need a person.”
My neighbor installed the unit in my bedroom window Sunday afternoon as I was lying on the sofa in a near-faint from the heat. A few hours later, I began to recover in a cooled room, icy drink still in hand.
Monday morning, computer in my room, I got back to work. Tuesday morning, the air-conditioning repairmen arrived. By 3:30 or so, the house was beginning to cool. Not so cool was my near-sub-zero checking account balance.
I continued to meet my deadlines, and the checks started rolling in. I paid my bills and began to ponder a new computer purchase. Mine has been a workhorse for six years, a long happy life for a desktop iMac. I don’t want to risk being without a computer, so I am thinking it’s time for an upgrade. The upgrade would allow me to continue working and earning. To meet my responsibilities—the payment on this 1800-square-foot house, utilities, repairs (such as air-conditioning). It hit me that I needed a new (expensive) computer to keep working to pay for my too-large (expensive) house and maintenance (often-expensive) and just keep going, going, going. It then hit me that I work to pay for my house and I work to pay for air conditioners and I work to pay for a new computer so I can continue working to pay for all these things and all this stuff that I think I need, but just might not.
In the meantime, because I have been working to pay for a lifestyle that doesn’t meet the true needs and desires of my soul, my soul is not fed. Until yesterday, it had been two weeks since I exercised. Until right now, it has been months since I wrote more than a scribbled word or thought on a piece of paper. I’m tense, I’m anxious, and I’m not particularly joyful.
I am on the hamster wheel and I’m running, running, nowhere and while running, I’m running past all that gives my life meaning.
Today, I got off the wheel. I’ll be back on it for a time while I continue to work today. But I’m exploring ways to stay off the wheel and live in such a way that the true needs and desires of my soul are met, so that my soul is fed, and in the process I can feed others.