I saw this documentary once about a dog living among a family of deer. Looking back on it, the documentary itself was mostly forgettable. However, there was this one particular moment that contributed heavily to my outlook on life.
One deer was sitting calmly by a small body of water. The dog, rambunctious as it was, bounded up and harassed the deer for a moment, then ran off. The remarkable thing about it was not the dog’s actions, but the deer’s reaction. The deer got super annoyed for that one moment while it was being bothered, then acted as if nothing had happened immediately after the ordeal was over.
I learned a critical lesson during that scene:
I don’t have to hold grudges and relive difficulties once they’re over. What’s done is done. I can simply just let it go.
That deer wasn’t thinking, “What a jerk that guy is! Did anyone see what he just did to me? I’m sitting here minding my own business and he comes up and bites me, pulls my hair, knocks me around, and then he runs off laughing! Seriously, who does he think he is!?”
She just let it pass over her and fully accepted the situation as soon as she was no longer in danger.
I’ve seen a lot of animal documentaries. It used to be the only thing I’d watch growing up as a teenager. I find it fascinating to see these creatures working in perfect harmony in an attempt to eradicate each other for sustenance.
My favorite was insects.
They’re so outlandishly bizarre and alien. However, even though it may be hard to empathize with a six-legged, exoskeletal microbot, they still have some great lessons to teach us.
How about a lesson in persistence, for example?
Watching ants work tirelessly toward a common goal is truly inspirational when viewed through the proper lens. They don’t argue over petty things and get into a full-blown civil war over a grain of sugar. They just move in, grab whatever looks useful, and drag it back to home base.
When a beehive is threatened, the whole colony gets all riled up to defend the queen and the community. Afterward, any damage done to the hive is immediately tended to and alleviated.
Do you think they grumble amongst themselves about how horrible it is that they wasted half their life building something that is now completely destroyed? I doubt it. They just go on as if this is a simple fact of life.
Because it is.
Cubs play amongst themselves to learn how to hunt and fight. These fine motor skills are developed through the act of playing. Sometimes it gets a little heated, but no grudges are held. They don’t grow up with deep-seated resentments toward their siblings. They don’t let past scuffles prevent them from cooperating in a hunt in their later years.
Their lives go on in perfect harmony.
To gain this perspective, it can be equally as helpful to watch our cats and dogs. Closely observe their behavior. They may be a bit weird and neurotic, but do you notice how serene they are?
Just imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to be bogged down by all of the thoughts in your head.
As humans, we mostly differentiate ourselves from the animal kingdom by our ability to reason. Clearly, this is a fabulous gift. But typically, it is also an unwanted curse.
For myself, I know how great it would be if I didn’t have to cycle through the same topic on an endless loop when I got stressed out about something.
Letting my imagination compound the original problem is even worse.
What’s even worse than that is getting myself all worked up about a scenario that doesn’t even exist!
Now that is some straight-up insanity right there.
I don’t do this as often as I used to, but I would find myself imagining a confrontation with someone. Oftentimes, it would be an imaginary person. A serious argument would eventually escalate to the point of violent conflict.
I have a hard time understanding what this is all about. My only guess is that my brain is simulating potential situations and running them through multiple programs so it knows what to look out for in the event that it actually occurs.
While this may be helpful on some level, it’s also ridiculous to be stressing over literally nothing at all. There’s enough actuality to worry about in the real world.
If you’ve made it this far into my impromptu rant about animals, I have a suggestion for you…
Pick a species that inspires you and study it a bit. Try and emulate its characteristics. See how you can be more like that strange and exotic being.
As far as I can tell, every living creature is just as alive as any other. As humans, we tend to think that we are the only ones who are truly conscious. I believe this is a grave error in our thinking which leaves us feeling disconnected from the world around us.
When we start to realize that even a cricket is a sentient point of consciousness with the same life-force coursing through it as our own, we may find that we are able to interact with reality in radically unique ways.
So go right ahead …
Act like an animal.
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