“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to”
– Mark Twain
Air, water and food are the metabolic requirements for humans. Shelter and clothing provide protection from the elements and are strongly desired, but not required for humans to live. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we are animals. Sure, we may have split the atom and found a way to put a man on the moon, but we are still just animals. In fact, there are many humans who have been born with a tail. Humans have a “tail bone” (the coccyx) attached to the pelvis, in the same place which other mammals have tails.
Sometimes, a child is born with a “soft tail”, which contains no vertebrae, but only blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. People, especially New Yorkers, like to believe that they are a cut above the rest and that “their” way of life is the best. But if we slow down to analyze what we really need as animals, not just as the persona that is ‘I,’ then we may see a different side of ourselves and the people around us.
I have written in past posts that people generally tend to not go after exactly what they want for fear of failure. Instead, they settle for something less, but generally which is also less of a hassle to attain. How many of us wanted to be professional athletes but realized it was a long shot, so we played in High School or College but then never took the time to hone our skills to the professional level?
How many of us would like to write a book someday but have yet to even write ten pages of that book? For some, the path of least resistance is to not try at all, and its certainly understandable. Do we owe more to the part of ourselves that is purely animal? What would happen if we acknowledged that our needs go beyond generally accepted protocols of interaction? Would we be happier or less happy?
One thing is for sure. We don’t really consider ourselves animals anymore. We take pride in the many ways that we differ from the animals around us. Whether it being delaying gratification through monogamy or by establishing a 401K, we take pride in all the ways that we are sophisticated, while repressing our animal instincts.
I fully understand all of the reasons that we, as a society and a species, would do such a thing. The animal kingdom, while filled with honesty of character, is not what you would call democratic and protective of individual rights. I’m sure a gazelle is not all that surprised when a lion tries to kill it, and a lion never pretends to be anything other than a lion. It is a killer and unapologetic about it. In our society, we don’t just say “Tommy is a killer. Thats just how Tommy is.” If Tommy started killing our citizens and eating them, we would lock Tommy up.
In conclusion, I think we live in a society where we repress our animal instincts and then like to act surprised when they come out. I believe there is potential for us to lead happier lives if we own up to the fact that we are in deed animals. Make no mistake, the answer is not to act with the same reckless abandon as your dog Fido. The answer is to understand that you and Fido have a lot more in common than you think. If you give Fido a doggie treat, he will eat it. If you give him two, he’ll eat two. So why should you be surprised when you have a hard time eating just one Thin Mint cookie when you have an entire box at your disposal. You are just an animal and you are flawed. Period.
Maybe if we had tails, we would better understand ourselves and the people around us. Maybe we could truly accept each other as our true selves, not just the persona that is ‘I.’
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
– Mark Twain
Bright Lights, Big City.