Being human is complicated. Like a shelf purchased from Ikea with a shortage of promised bolts. We suspect we are ok and strong and prepared to go the distance, but then again… what were those bolts supposed to be for? As humans, we pride ourselves in creating games out of thin air and then congratulating ourselves for following the rules of the games we've created. Look at Banking for chrissakes. Look at Starbucks, look at health insurance and hospitals and churches. Look at war. Look at politics and taxes. Look at love and cubicles. We create these fantastical games because of the lack of bolts and the stability that we think they were supposed to provide and the structure that we think we need, that we fear is missing. Paranoid that our sand castles will melt, we cling to more sand and tell ourselves it is bedrock. Funny, that too, bedrock, is just a material on a sphere that is hurling through space, held by nothing more than it's dervishness.
Do pigs knock? Do cows courtesy? Even if they had pockets, I doubt that frogs would carry money. It's not real. It's not real unless you've bought into the contract of the game where two people agree that this paper is going to have some value or power.
I think it’s quite possible that Homo erectus was at one time, if not still, the Trump of the evolutionary situation. Man is the drunk frat boy* arriving to the dungeons and dragons party, ruining everything. Animals were quite fine before we came along and would be much better off without us now. Don’t get me wrong. I love humans plenty. I just don’t believe our priority has been to give much to the earth. Sure we’ve done plenty of cool things for each other and ourselves but this means diddly in the global picture. As a species, we’ve been pretty selfish, pretty masturbatory. There’s no intimacy between us and the globe as a whole. Our relationship with the planet has been one of half-hearted damage control at best. It's a relationship where one person's main focus is simply to keep the other from breaking up with them; doing just enough to keep them off life support but not enough for them to thrive.
Perhaps it’s because we think we are special. We’ve created rules and games that are different than the guidelines that nature follows. These games distract us from simple existence. If that's how one wants to spend their days, I'm not going to rain on their parade, I just have got to believe there is a better way. And the better way is right before our eyes.
I've been close to nature for the past year, in the jungle of Thailand and on the side of a volcano in Mexico. I’ve arranged it so that I make time to watch nature, internal and external. I think it’s important to witness birth and death, butterflies and scorpions, stars and sunsets. One month I watched the daily decay of a frog on the path to the meditation hall and had the time to really see it. It takes a long time for a frog corpse to turn to dust. At first, it felt awkward and abrupt to slow down, when I stopped the flow of some of the games I had never considered optional previously. There's a dizziness that arises when we stop spinning. I felt like I should be “doing” something, doing something ELSE. Animals don’t have "to do" lists. Their agenda is right before them and within them, in the now. When there is work to be done, work happens. When it is time to sleep, sleep happens. Simple. Easy. Living. And the joke of it all is that we think we don’t have a choice.
I’m rambling on and throwing words at the page like so many spitballs at the proverbial chalkboard. I think I’ll get out of the way as Walt Whitman, naturally, said it best:
I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.