We humans lead complicated lives. It’s the way we like it. It’s what our large primate brain has been honed for. It’s just that, well – it’s just that sometimes it’s so exhausting.
I can grasp (& I’m sure you can too) how this big brain thing happened over the 7 million or so years of our struggle for survival on the shifting forests & plains & lakesides & coasts of Africa (& later Eurasia)…I can grasp how over hundreds of thousands of human primate generations, random mutations enhanced our survival-based ability to obsess about complex relationships & build up our tech toolbox.
I can also grasp how our ancestors found it advantageous to more often waddle out of dwindling forests on two hind legs: all the better to find food on drier grasslands; all the better to smell & see other animals waiting to eat us; all the better to eat & carry fruit (& youngsters & eventually scavenged meat) along the way; & wow! -> less energy spent moving around meant more energy available for that growing brain of ours. I can grasp all of this with this big brain of mine. Together with an admittedly meagre ability to grasp how long a few million years is, I (as you know) unashamedly promote this fantastic account of our early stroll on the path to becoming brainiacs.
I marvel though at the youth of the human primate: life itself is way older than we are – about 3.5 billion years older, at least on this planet. Ergo, I ponder that maybe our youth is why our brains don’t yet adequately appreciate the art of being realistic.
Being realistic is not a highly regarded value in human culture. During our recent history (over the past 500,000 years or so), being realistic probably meant no meat for dinner – bummer! & even though we mostly survived on snails & sedges & snakes & shellfish (most likely gathered by females with babies & grandkids nestled in those handy forelimbs), our human disregard for boundaries helped us get to where we are today… plentiful & ubiquitous, delusional & hopeful, anxious & realistic.
& even though I’m one of those latter types, there’s a feeling of immense relief when this one-in-7-billion can manage to climb out of a deeply familiar but deeply unsatisfying neural groove in that messy brain of mine & burn down one of those boundaries. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I can almost feel the rest of my brain happily scrambling toward new, shinier pathways…the fruit trees just over the next hill! the newfound friend just waiting for a walking-date invitation! a new contract for the perfect project! Our unrealistic nature helps us keep moving on…& that’s (usually) a good thing.
So, here’s to burning the fence once in a while…
…& to zephyrs tickling music from weathered bamboo.