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.
very thought provoking for a thursday morning,
i know i would benifit more from “living in the moment” as it were,
i am one of those people who doesn’t like change too much, which can tend to hold me back a bit,
if i was uprooted and shipped somewhere else, i would like to think i could survive and start again,
but if i knew where i was and where i came from i would probably be tempted to phone home and get back to what i know and is comfortable,
sometimes i hate that side of me,
hitchhikers guide to the galaxy …
I need to stop reading my friends’ blogs in reverse chronology.
Great post, Kevin. It’s definitely important to adapt and to live in the present. What it comes down to, I think, is not worrying about the things you can’t control.
The advantage we have over animals, though, is the ability to learn from the past and to prepare for the future. Although, because we’re neurotic humans, we seem to have trouble doing these things without becoming completely obsessed. And by we I mean “I.” 😉
the thing is, humans ARE very adaptable. not as fast as animals, granted that, but far more than we expect.
one long term, large scale, psychology study asked people to evaluate their happiness of their life, and evaluate how happy/sad they would be if they lost a limb or won the lottery.
over the scale of the study, some people had that happen. in all cases the *long term effect* of incredibly excellent or horrible events on their self-evaluated happiness scale was zilch.
so, yeah, we might think that we would be depressed eternally, but we bounce back. the other lesson is that winning the lottery doesn’t really fix anything either… if you were unhappy before, you’ll be unhappy after.
Good one Kev.
I think it just boils down to baggage. The spider only has to worry about staying alive, making a web, and catching some flies. Spiders don’t have to worry about jobs, careers, or anything else. We, on the other hand, have a hell of a complex social structure that requires multiple things from us. We gotta deal with work, friend, relationships, hobbies, and much m ore. As such, we get into a very complex rhythm, and if we take ourselves out of it (especially if it’s unexpectedly), we just have a harder time adapting.
So..yea, in a sentence: The hardship of adapting to a new environment is directly connected to the level of complexity of our social involvement. Hope it made sense =P
The other day we were going to a meeting and this funky bug was on the car, on the passenger window. It was one of those vibrant green bugs that look like a leaf with legs. This bug was freaking smart. My boss started driving fast to see if we could shake it off, but the sucker just faced the wind, got closer to the window, and folded its wings back. Then when we were at stop lights, it would crawl around and explore the window. But as soon as we caught some speed, it would stop moving, face forward, and assume a more aerodynamic position. Coolest bug i’ve ever seen.
animals are definitely more adaptable then human beings – they really just live in the “now” then in the past or future like we do. that’s what really bogs us down. like patron with his gimpy legs (well, leg singular since i forked out moolah to fix one of them!) – he doesn’t act like he’s a “special” dog. he’s just… normal. even though he has permanently dislocated kneecaps, hip dysplsia and severe bowing of the legs, he just… is.
we should all get our front lobes removed and just live like a dog. makes planning a bitch though.