Get off the hamster wheel!” At the end of the year, I constantly hear the wish that everything should come to a standstill. Everyone wants contemplative days, peace and quiet, although everyone knows that this usually brings anything but peace. I used to pray all that after, lamenting about the end of the year, when everything is supposed to be so stressful, when everyone acts as if life wouldn't go on after New Year's Eve. As if everything after the New Year falls off some cliff and disappears forever into the sea of unfinished business.
This year I want to rehabilitate the hamster and his wheel. What's so bad about them? As a child, didn't I sit in front of the hamster cages of my German friends and cheer when the animal got lost in a circle? In my Croatian world, hamsters were non-existent. I don't even know the word for it. In kindergarten, on the other hand, the hamster was a member of the family, and when we buried the first one on the edge of the meadow by the playground, I was amazed at how much love the Germans had for him. There was an emotional farewell speech, people spoke of sadness instead of trauma, and I wondered at the pompous tragedy why a Protestant pastor hadn't come as well.
This beloved pet of German childhoods becomes a symbol of stressful life as soon as one grows up. I feel the need to finally love the hamster in me. If I'm honest, at the end of the year I'm not so afraid of the stress as I am of the standstill. Against this contemplative compulsion under the Christmas tree, which culminates in the fact that most of them are sitting in cafés on Boxing Day like resurrected ones, disheveled from the family fight and back in the happiness of their chosen affinities.
How much stress does all this talking about stress create? The moments when we all want to reassure each other how much we have to do, how much our own hamster is restlessly spinning in the wheel, as if that were an award. Aren't we actually hamsters in the great course of life? Since the lockdown, which I enjoyed the first time because someone finally stopped the bike, I know that I don't want to live in stillness. I think we take on a lot of the stress ourselves because we claim to experience a lot while breathing as calmly as a Zen Buddha. At the theater I once wanted to be cool before a premiere and said I wasn't excited, so an actor said to me, "If I wasn't excited, I wouldn't be doing any of this."
We live in the time of mindfulness speeches, off-the-shelf yoga classes, conscious breathing courses and introspection. Perhaps our stress is that we think life itself is stress and that instead we should breathe in the headstand and feel existence.
If we are supposed to be calm and still, why are we born into a body that has urges, hunger, and the need to move? Why should we go to the trouble of trying to pull it all off when after death it might vanish into thin air anyway? At the latest then we can sit in the sky like stars and look down at how people turn around, how they rush, rush, yearn, search, argue, love, cheat and hate. What a stress! Nevertheless, I'm sure we would envy these people in our heavenly contentment for their earthly life.
So why not enjoy the stress on earth right away? Happy hamsters!