Thursday, February 10, 2011

Better



Every day it's possible to find an article or report about how animals are more like us than not. Usually I just shake my head when I see these stories. How could it be that only just now we're officially figuring this out? What was that old thought form about being separate from the animal kingdom, anyway? How did that serve us? I could get into a big thing here about how it's obscene that we still experiment on animals, especially our close cousins, the chimpanzees. Truly obscene.

But what I'm thinking about this morning is the human urge to improve ourselves, to become more skilled, smarter, faster, thinner, funnier, sexier, kinder. We wish to open our hearts, or become less emotional, or more spiritual, or more practical. What is up with that?

Do you think dogs ever have these kinds of thoughts and ambitions? Do they think things like, I should bark more, or Why did I miss that frisbee catch? Do cats ever think, I wish I was as fierce as a feral, or I COULD be nicer to my human companions.

Maybe our human urge to improve ourselves is an extension of instinctual pecking order hierarchy. We want to get promoted because that moves us up the food chain, we want to be thinner in order to attract a suitable mate, that sort of thing. I'm not sure about this. Any theories?

We homo sapiens are visionaries in so many ways. We can imagine perfection. Once visualized, we reach for it again and again, unwilling - or incapable - of admitting to ourselves that perfection actually does not exist.

We try so hard, we screw up so often. But we keep trying. Do other animals do this? I wonder.

13 comments:

The Bug said...

It's like that urge to survive taken to the nth degree - we get all twisted up about what we need to do to survive. It would be nice if we could just turn our brains off every now & then. Oh! Suddenly I understand why people drink until they pass out! I never got it before...

Reya Mellicker said...

This is also why people meditate - not to turn it off, but to unwind. At least that's why I meditate.

ellen abbott said...

I don't know. I think animals are content to live in the 'now', content to be who they are. they are much better at it than we humans. altho I understand animals can be neurotic. do you think that comes with trying to be 'better'?

jeanette from everton terrace said...

It's eery sometimes how I wander over here and you are discussing things I've been pondering as of late...

Jo said...

Ha! "Why did I miss that frisbee catch?" We used to have a german shepherd that I'm SURE used to think that. ♥

Great questions, Reya. They bring to mind one of my favorite quotes by William Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”

So much has been achieved by people with drive and imagination, but we also have to ask ourselves sometimes if we are being driven crazy in the process!

I agree that meditation is a great way to remove that drive for perfection from our psyche for a few moments each day.

glnroz said...

basic; pain/pleasure, natural movement toward one, away from the other. Interpretation from different species, different conclusions, but same flow,,,reckon?

Reya Mellicker said...

Glenn you're a genius. Improvement is satisfying isn't it?

Jeanette I don't think it's eery, I think it's cool!!

Jo. Driven crazy by it, eh? Oh yeah!

Vicki said...

What I am trying to learn is more patience and trying not to always make sure everyone is happy. My meditations are far and wide but when I do go inward I am happier. Oh and the Sun and warmer temperatures helps alot too! Another great post Reya... Much love...

steven said...

been - gone - returned for the opportunity to be, do, move on. without the whorl of imperative pointing towards some sort of betterment there'd be little but the opportunity to try again and being an impulsive soul i'd just as soon move on to the next bright thing which is up by the stars. so i'll keep on learning to recognize the good stuff and share it as soon it comes into the me that is here for just a short amount of time. thanks for the burning question reya!!! you are so good. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Reya, I'm waiting for the day we humans realize that the whole of the animal kingdom, and the animal kingdom includes us, is dependent upon and less magical than the plant kingdom.

We human delude ourselves in thinking that we are at the pinnacle of the web of life. Not so. Just a thread, a strand, and one that's pretty hard on the rest of the web. Tearing big holes in it, actually.

Reya Mellicker said...

I would argue that the plant kingdom is no more magical than the animal kingdom. We're all part of the weave. Shalom.

Kerry said...

We have one dog who thinks quite hard about certain things, and another who is a creature of the moment, never giving a thought to the "why" of it. They have personalities as distinct as any human I have known. But I don't think they worry about achieving perfection, and that is truly enlightened of them!

Winston Riley said...

Weird. Just this morning I woke up with the disappointment of not catching that frisbee