Saturday, February 18, 2012

Animals, both Duck and Human

Travis, Kian and myself go for (pretty much) daily walks around our apartment complex. This morning on our walk we saw two of the Muscovy ducks (the ones with the bubbly red face masks) in a fierce fight for a female. I mean, this was epic. I've lived off and on in Florida for the majority of my life, and I've never seen a battle of this intensity before. We could hear the pounding of their thick, feathered bodies as they rammed into each other. At one point their necks were wrapped around each other in a violent embrace. I was pretty sure one of them was going to die until a man came and broke them up with a broom. This was all over a female duck, of course--mating rights, and all.       

(Not my picture; UF IFAS Extension)
Anyway, it was pretty amazing, and it was good timing, too. I have been thinking a lot about my  animality (I think I just made up a word!). Not metaphorically, but literally. Humans belong to the Kingdom Animalia. 

We are animals.

I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with this fact and so choose to ignore it, but I find it comforting; I embrace it. What I struggle with, though, is the fact that the entire culture of my upbringing and present residency does everything it can to rip me away from this truth. I often daydream about moving to the country or living in the woods. Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly cynical, grim, depressed, or otherwise trying to extrapolate the effects of our cultural paradigm into the future, I think about the end of the world. That might sound extreme, then again, it might sound completely reasonable. The way I see it (and I know I'm not alone) is that our collective forgetting of this one simple truth has created an entire set of beliefs, which in turn has lead to a habit of living that is incredibly destructive and sick. You all know what I'm talking about here, I don't think I have to name these habits.    

There are some really wonderful books out there for people who are interested in reading more about this/these subject(s), and related ones. Here's a list of favorites:

Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn (or really anything by him, but I strongly suggest starting with this book)
The Origin of Humankind, by Richard Leakey
Becoming Animal, by David Abram
Annals of the Former World, by John McPhee (for a taste of how massive and powerful Earth is)
The Lorax, by Dr.Seuss

I could keep going, but I think that is a good start. Try the local library, or, if you are in the buying mood, might I suggest a local bookstore rather than (not that I haven't spent my fair share of money at Amazon...)? 

Back to my thoughts this morning, though. I realized that I shouldn't be wasting too much energy on these daydreams, because they get me nowhere. Thinking about how wonderful it would be to live in the mountains does nothing to help me establish habits that are aligned with my inner values now. I struggle with finding ways to live the way I want to in such a densely populated, urban environment as Pinellas County, Florida. According to the Pinellas County website there are 3,274 people per square mile here. That's insane if you ask me, and it makes certain things quite difficult. Most recently I've been thinking about adding foraged food to our diets, but there's not a lot of good, relatively clean, undeveloped land here to look for edibles, and the places that I would trust to not be sprayed with pesticides aren't close enough to walk to in a reasonable amount of time. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways to align my outer actions with my inner beliefs though, it just might take a bit more ingenuity here than in other places.

Really, I could talk and talk and talk (or, more accurately, type and type and type) about this subject, but alas, non-blogging life awaits. 

Until next time.

This was at Eagle Lake Park

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