Get Lost, You Might Find Yourself
There are so many fascinating aspects to pet ownership it boggles the mind when you try to break down the complexity of keeping a pet. At the core of this desire is the human-animal bond. This is a true desire and meaningful connection between two different species which serves an evolved function of meeting our social connection needs. Human beings used to keep animals for a lot of different purposes such as food, plowing, riding, security, tasks and management of other animals. Today the majority of people who share their lives, resources and homes with animals are pet owners. In some home’s pets are worshiped while other members of the community find them revolting. We are surely species biased, we treat some species like a fallen deity while others are trapped, exterminated upon site or raised solely for slaughter.
“What is it about human psychology that makes it so difficult for us to think consistently about animals? The paradoxes that plague our interactions with other species are due to the fact that much of our thinking is a mire of instinct, learning, language, culture, intuition, and our reliance on mental shortcuts.”
― Hal Herzog,
I find all the best qualities in myself come from spending time in the natural world and forming relationships with animals. I have worked with animals in some capacity since 1996. Every time I started to head down a different path I found myself searching for meaning in my life. I never feel this way when I am hiking outdoors, skiing, sleeping under the stars or helping animals. My life is often defined by my profound love and affinity for other species. I understand their motivations and desires perhaps more clearly than my own species at times.
People and non-human animals can get stuck, they get trapped and defined by their behavior patterns. I have some terrible habits I am always trying to change. I work with dogs who have their own complex behavior problems. I see destructive behavior every day when I go to work. The fastest way to bring radical changes is by shifting some aspect of the environment which is contributing to the behavior.
Creating a life where you are constantly being enriched, rewarded and challenged by the natural world is surly a way to create great behaviors an any species. In doing this, the ability to see the world will evolve from your own desires and motivations toward understanding the rich, interconnectedness of our world. Every single moment is an opportunity to evolve. This way of thinking means you will never be the same self you were when you woke up. Dedicate your energy toward making an impact and having frequent positive interactions with nature and other species. As soon as you create a blueprint for the version of yourself that is defined not by selfies and inauthentic short term pleasure you can find the world gives you what you need the most. There is a quality of life you can discover but you cannot find it online, you cannot purchase in a store and no matter how many photos you like or thumbs up, you have to go and EXPERIENCE this life for yourself. A life worth living takes conscious effort, you have to wade through all the distractions of our modern world. Don’t let the natural world continue to elude you, change your plans, right now. Pick a weekend activity that sets you free from distraction. Enrich your bond with an animal by spending quality time outdoors.
When I take an animal out into the world, I am trying to see the world as they do, this is impossible but I do my best to be a conscious observer. I see what excites, frightens and puzzles them. I notice a content, quiet, joy when we are away from it all. I feel relaxed as they relax. We simply get lost in the experience. If you need to feel this, go volunteer at a shelter, go somewhere quiet and for once, just be. Be still, quiet, listen and watch. You might learn something.
I love storytelling, I think it is such a fantastic way to explore the relationship we have with other animals. On the Podcast Radiolab there is an episode called “Stranger in Paridise” where the examine the relationship of the population of Guadeloupe and the beloved raccoon. This is a great example of the complicated way people feel about animals. Check it out. #trypod