Henry lay on his side, exhausted, a short distance from the
mill. Only the rasping sound of his labored breathing broke the still morning air.
From somewhere within Henry could recall the rush of adrenaline that had once accompanied his first energetic steps toward the finish line he assumed lay ahead of him.
He couldn’t remember when he had started running, worse yet…(1) he couldn’t remember why he was running. In the beginning it had been so exciting. But somewhere along the way, the exhilaration had been replaced with exhaustion and a numbing realization that crushed all hope: (2) there was no finish line.
(3) Henry closed his eyes and allowed his breathing to slowly return to normal. In that rare moment of inactivity, he tasted the reality of the world around him for the first time in a long time. The smell of fresh straw, the shaft of sunlight streaming through the window. He took it all in—but only for a moment. A sound from the mill caught his attention, and he opened his eyes just in time to see the huge circular treadmill whine to a stop.
Slowly he sat up and stared at the machine that had dominated so much of his life. “This treadmill is killing you,” (4) a voice within whispered. “Don’t waste another moment on this race to nowhere.” He drank deeply from the cool water nearby, the voice triggered a dull ache in his heart.
There had to be more to life than the machine offered. The cool water revived him, and his breathing slowed. He felt refreshed. Maybe he could start a new life. (5) Maybe today! But how? What would he do next? Where would he go? What goals would he pursue?
Well, those decisions could come later. Right now he felt a little (6) frightened by the prospect of (7) change. Maybe someday he would taste life again but for now he would stick with what was familiar— (8) and safe. So, still dreaming about things that could be, he mindlessly stepped onto the wheel for the thousandth time in his short life. Soon its mesmerizing whir and reflected light flashing from the turning spokes blocked the pain. Freedom and adventure could wait. For now, the treadmill required no (9) risk, no (10) faith, no (11) thought. He would live later. For now, he would just run.
I hope you have figured out that Henry is a hamster! More importantly, I hope you see the parallels to real life. Hidden within this little story I wrote over twenty years ago are the secrets to getting off the treadmill, out of the rat race and back into life. Throughout the story I numbered the secrets in bold print so you can review them.
- Find something worth running for.
- Know that there is a finish line and where it is.
- Find a way to rest and use that time to think clearly about what race you are in.
- Listen to that small voice that calls you to life.
- Don’t put off living, take the first step today.
- Don’t let fear keep you from doing what is right.
- Don’t let the comfort of the familiar keep you from the adventure of possibility.
- Recognize that choosing not to live is unsafe. Go for it.
- Faith is the key that unlocks and mediates all the above. It is the foundation for making the right decisions to live life fully alive.
- Think your plan through with intention to act on it.
I was tempted to comment on each of the 11 secrets. But I have intelligent followers so I will let you comment.
Do any of these numbers ring your bell?
Did I miss some secrets you know about?
Do you have a story that will encourage my readers?
I look forward to reading your comments.[reminder]