The word conjures up a lot of thoughts and particularly about Zane, our cat that passed away suddenly a month or so ago; I still find myself looking for her.
My next thought – and other than Mrs. Feve shouldn’t be awake at 3am – was that we are all animals but we think we’re above the other animals that makes up life on this planet. I thought about political animals and how many of them seem to be suffering from a bad case of rabies these days.
But what I really thought about are the memories of what animals have taught me about why humans just tend to make a big deal out of that which other animals do naturally and as a matter of survival.
My mind flashed back decades to a moment when a bunch of friends and I were outside and, knowing us, doing our level best to find some trouble to get into when these two dogs came trotting along, stopped right in front of us and, well, the one dog started fucking the other dog. Everyone just lost it in some way; they were either laughing about it or feeling very disgusted by what they were looking at and all the while, the dogs were going about it and if we weren’t standing there gawking.
We make such a big deal about sex and have gone out of our way to demonize something that is, in fact, natural but what makes us different than those two dogs is that we can do it just for the fun of it and not necessarily for procreation and I’d eventually learn that we’re not the only animal species on the planet who has sex just because we can. Others in the animal kingdom who are, ah, sexual rebels, don’t discriminate between male and female and experts have studied the famous bonobo monkeys who pretty much flaunt their bisexuality in the face of the rest of the animal kingdom… including us.
Yet we go to great lengths to distance ourselves and to not see ourselves as the animal we really are. I think about Zane and how she bonded to me and, well, I guess to her, I was just a funny looking cat and perhaps it didn’t make a difference that we were two different animals. We’d get pissed with each other, play with each other and she’d spend a lot of time just lying on my feet, purring happily and without a care in the world… because that’s the way it’s supposed to be and a continuing reminder that we’re not as all that as we like to think we are.
In that memoir kind of way, we are magnificent animals and my life is full of moments where that magnificence has shined… and where that magnificence has been dulled and sullied because, unlike other animals, we’ve not yet learned how to get along with each other and to not let our differences divide us and make us contentious. Take a pride of lions, for example: If you’re part of the pride, it’s all good and outsiders, well, not all that welcomed. They have their own power struggles and orders of dominance and when you think about lions, the first image that pops into your head is the one with the huge mane, the king of the jungle and all that… but the real power in the pride lies with the lioness and you only see the competitive fierceness in male lions when it’s mating time. We laugh – or maybe even cringe – about a male lion going from female to female and hitting it, you know, provided she doesn’t turn around and bitch-slap the fuck out of him a few time and just as we tend to cringe to see two males fighting over a female.
And humans, as it turns out, aren’t all that different except, given our advantage of having a more and highly developed brain, we can somehow justify acting like the animals we try to insist that we don’t really behave like. It’s not one endearing memory or memoir kind of thing with this particular prompt…
It’s a reminder of that which we don’t think about so much; we are all animals and no matter how much or how hard we try to distance ourselves from the other species on the planet, eh, we’re really not all that different or even civilized as we like to think we are.
It’s the one thing that has stayed with me ever since that day we watched those two dogs fucking and without any concern, fears, or even shame because they were doing what they were supposed to do. Another day, yeah, wow – we saw two male dogs trying to hump each other and while the others were pretty much losing their minds over the two “faggot” dogs, for me, those two dogs taught me something about being human and to not be ashamed or even afraid to do that which, in fact and in deed, comes naturally to a lot of animals.
And the persistent, constant memory and realization that we think we’re better than all the other animals on the planet… and we aren’t. Not so much a memoir but a lesson in life itself and one we all should learn, that we can be human without all the dumb shit we bring to the table. Zane could be totally pissed with me one moment… and happily at my feet and purring the next moment. There wasn’t a day that went by that she wouldn’t piss me off one moment and in the next one, I was petting her and, yeah, even talking to her. We were two different animals but we found a way to not only get along but to co-exist together.
If only the rest of us could learn to do this so that if the day comes when we really do sit down and write our memoirs, what we’ve learned from other animals will play a part in our lives.