I had this thought tonight as I was driving home from the beach. I spider had landed itself on my windshield while the car was parked by the lake, and as I drove home, it scuttled into my car, across the dashboard, and out the passenger-side window. I rolled up the window on the passenger side so it wouldn’t come back in, and I could see it clinging to the glass outside.
I figured that in about 15 minutes, I had just transported that spider much further than it could have made it on its own in its entire life. It’s going to have to start a whole new life now, with different friends, in a different environment, and practically on a different world. Yet, I think the spider will do fine, or at least will carry on doing normal spider things.
It made me wonder what it would be like if that happened to me. What if, within a span of 15 minutes, some outside force moved me further than any conceivable human transport could take me within my entire life, and landed me in a completely alien, but still habitable environment? How would I adjust? I think it would be distressing.
In a related thought, I saw a kitten at the animal shelter the other day who had just had one of its front legs amputated from the shoulder. It was heartbreaking to see such a cute little animal with nothing but a stitched up wound where it should have a leg. The kitten didn’t seem to be suffering though. It was playing with a stuffed mouse, tossing it around the cage with its remaining front paw, standing up on its hind legs and exploring its environment with great curiosity and energy.
Anyway, the whole point of this is that I think animals are so much more adaptable than humans, because they live in the moment. We can be distracted by feeling sorry for ourselves for our various predicaments. Whether or not we deserve to feel sorry for ourselves is irrelevant; it is still distracting and can prevent us from doing what needs doing. Yet, our ability to base an emotional state on a past memory of how things were is still valuable. It helps us to learn from history, and to predict an outcome based on prior events. Still, I can’t help but think that if we could train ourselves to be more present, like animals are, we might have something to gain from it.