gerbil-clipart-1What do you want out of life???

I don’t know if I’ll try to answer that question. But I do know this: Watch both Zeitgeist movies, a few choice TED videos, and finish it off with the Story of Stuff and you might just say, “Brother, it sure as hell ain’t this!” And then depression sets in…

In my study of gerbils I have pondered mysteries both great and deep.

For Abyss newbies:

“Gerbil” is the term I have coined for younglings that fail to empty nest on schedule. And then, later, when they belatedly emerge from the nest sans high school diploma and any discernable life plan, they do things like go on food stamps, obtain medical marijuana cards (sore back), drink lots of alcohol, sleep until 5pm, stay up until 5am, take pictures of themselves smoking and post them on Facebook, and avoid jobs, school and self-improvement at all costs.

That’s the modern genus of gerbil that I am familiar with.

A Rush song famously said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Indeed. The modern gerbil lifestyle is a choice!

I took a gerbil aside one day and offered words that I thought, in my hubris, might somehow be wise.

Trust me on this. It ain’t easy coming back from a gerbil bite.

“Look,” I said. “I get it. I was once you. It takes one to know one. Once upon a time I too had the kind of life where you could spend a whole week doing nothing but lie in bed, watch the U.S. Open and eat Cheetos.”

I don’t want to pop your bubble but those times can’t last forever. Something has got to give.

If you don’t want to clean yourself up, get a traditional 9 to 5, and spend your life working for The Man while trapped on an endless wheel, I get that. Hell, I respect that. I’m trapped on that wheel myself and I think it sucks ass. I understand you, gerbil. More than you’ll ever know.

If you want to reject that paradigm you’ll have my support. I grok. The only caveat is that you do … something. Sitting on your ass, mooching off your friends, and living life as a half-baked organism only gets you so far.

You don’t want a job? Fine. Come up with a viable new life path. That’s all I ask.

What might such a hypothetical alternative life path look like? I have no bloody idea. But I do believe it should contain elements of growth, learning, utilizing your potential, well being, happiness and contentment. And if you want to be truly advanced, you can even incorporate giving something back and doing well by others, to have some sense of being beneficial in a societal context.

The gerbil just shrugged, said, “Whatever,” and left to look for his next hit and/or find a sofa for a 24-hour nap.

Seriously, though. As a middle-aged American stuck in a dead-end job, working for a moronic asshole who converts your labor into his own profits while keeping you under his boot heel, acting as another mindless cog in a useless wheel, what are you life path options?

What choices do you really have?

Maybe my thoughts are normal. Maybe this is midlife crisis kind of stuff. But I find myself thinking about chucking the whole deal, leaving it all behind for something else. I just have no idea what that something else could possibly be?

Move to the Arctic, build an igloo and live on whale blubber? I’d love to be off the grid but I’m decidedly not the Man vs. Wild type. I can’t hop into the nearest forest and go all Rambo and shit.

Backpack Europe and teach English as a means of paying my way? That sounds crazy wild. I don’t know if I have it in me.

Be the oldest recruit e-v-a-r in the Peace Corps? That might be too much change.

Convert to Buddism and become a monk? Again, too radical a shift. The cons would likely outweigh the pros.

Someone help me out here. If you want to get out of the rat race, what options do we really have? What other life paths exist? I’d really like to know.

And I guess I will attempt to answer the big question after all. “What do you want out of life?” To live in peace with my wife and cats, to maximize good experiences and minimize the bad, clean air, fresh water, enough food, a little peace of the Earth set aside just for us, with as much time as possible where we can do as we wish and not be under the direct control of others.

What about you? What do you want out of life? What choices do you still see as possible?

6 responses

  1. I’m with you, Shouts. Right now, I’m looking to get out of where I work now (financial services) and use what I already know how to do at a place that actually does worthwhile work – school, hospital, non-profit, etc.
    I’m not going to save the world, but at least I can work in support of those who will.

    Also, if you can, get over the gerbil thing. One day one of them will be president.


    1. President? Something tells me that by the age of 25 the choices my gerbils have made have already more than precluded that possibility. President Obama graduated high school. My gerbils did not. Perhaps they could have recovered from that, if they worked hard and applied themselves. Game, set, match.

      With the holes they have dug the ultimate pinacle of their lives is now pin setter at the local bowling alley, if they are lucky.

      They say that nothing is impossible. I disagree. Each passing day reduces your number of possible future outcomes.


  2. Nothing is impossible as long as you put your mind, body, and energy into it.

    I, too, do not wish to become one of the forty-somethings wondering “what did I do with my life?” when I haven’t done anything. Sure, security (a roof over my head, food, utilities, and clothing) would be great, but I’d rather not sacrifice my life at a 9-to-5 for a measly paycheck when they don’t even respect me as a fellow human.

    It isn’t easy, especially someone who doesn’t have any ties to the world: no husband, no children, no pets, etc. I am a prime candidate in traveling the world except I’m broke.

    I wish I could be more like Colin Wright. He writes how-to books about being an entrepreneur, he creates t-shirts, he is young and handsome with a niche, and he knows how to socialize and network. And he has the ability to travel, to get to know people, make his own money.

    It’s hard but you have to keep trying, keep pushing. Once you give up, you’ve given up on life and that isn’t a good place to be. So keep going, Shouts, I am sure you will figure it out. Start small and work from there.


    1. I forgot to mention the movie Into The Wild but you just provided the opportunity to seque. 🙂

      It’s a movie about an alternate life path. The kid has a certain set of skills that make his choice of path possible. He starts by giving away his money. Later he abandons his car. These acts of faith are what give him the freedom (in the truest sense of the word) to explore life however he wants.

      Sure, things don’t end up very well, but that’s not the point. Without that outcome it wouldn’t have been made into a movie and we’d have never heard of the guy.

      Me? If I tried the same thing I’d be dead within a week. I don’t have the same set of skills. I am not the type of person that feels anything is possible. I deal with what is probable, such as licking the bottom of boot heels. It’s my way. Without the poor where would the rich be?


      1. I do think you can do anything if you’re willing to put the time and commitment into whatever it is you want to attain. There’s a reason people are poor, but it isn’t to balance the economy. Many people are lazy, some are incredibly unlucky, and others can’t get out of their own way.


      2. I appreciate your input and point of view. But they don’t call me the Guru of Negativity for nothing. 🙂

        IMHO, my strengths are intelligence and trying to be considerate of others. I decidedly do not have the skill set that favors the generation of wealth. At least not on this planet. My boss, however, has those skills in abundance. Such is life, I guess.

        Thanks for your comments!


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