The male peacock is the one with the colors, as it struts along the pavement at our zoo. Yesterday, Shaya and I went to see the new penguin exhibit and then walked around the place, reminding ourselves how beautiful the animals are.
Throughout nature, it’s the male of a species that has the brightest colors, the boldest detail, the most brilliant designs. My little guy and I talked about that as we walked along in the spring sunshine. The females are the boring ones, more bland, so as not to attract attention.
So as to protect them, as they protect the babies.
There is a certain order in nature that does not exist among humans.
I’m not advocating for traditional roles and values, mind you. I’m just pondering the state of things.
Shaya and I talked about this as we walked along, how the males are brave and vocal (have you heard a peacock caw? Not a pretty sound.), the females behind-the-scenes.
I remembered why I never go to the zoo. While I love seeing the beauty of the bears’ fur, the array of the lion’s mane, the impeccable designs of the very tall calm giraffe, it makes me sad that they are in cages.
And along so many of the animals’ enclosures hung a sign indicating that the zoo is working toward species preservation, since humans have hunted the animals nearly to extinction.
We do such good and such damage, I said to my boy. He nodded in understanding.
We had just returned from a three-day grade-four trip to a dark sky park on Lake Michigan, near the Mackinac Straits. We had been away to reconnect with the land and what is good in the world, to see the incredible diamond-like stars unobstructed by city lights or light pollution.
The children cuddled into sleeping bags on the crisp lawn late the first night, staring up at the stories told among the stars. They pointed and gasped as they identified the North Star, Jupiter, the Big Dipper, and more.
They kicked a soccer ball along the grass, threw frisbees that landed in the still-cold water, then waded in to retrieve them. It’s not so cold, they said, giggling, as they emerged from the clear lake.
We took silent hikes in hopes of seeing wildlife. We took loud hikes, so ecstatic to be in the woods among all the possibility of the world.
We told stories about why trees were felled, what had happened there. We didn’t miss the television or the smart phones. We didn’t miss the busyness of our everyday lives.
We fell in sync with nature, agreed with the idea of preserving what is natural in our world.
And so on the end of our week, considering the incredible animals locked up in our zoo for us humans to view, I couldn’t help but wonder how we can think we are so superior.
How can we justify the arrogance we carry like a lineage through time, believing ourselves superior to all and everything?
How can we destroy the world, thinking we are making progress and improving things, when really we are running ourselves and our potential into the ground?
We have it all wrong.
Life is not better with more-more-more – more running, more money, more stuff.
Life is better when we can hear the stars twinkle, when we are so compelled by the moment that we must fling our arms around another to show the deep love that overflows in us.
I came home to lists and to-dos, to accounts needing balance. It’s Saturday morning and I think the day is progressing outside but I have yet to taste the air on my cheek.
Seeing the beautiful peacock, I mentioned to Shaya how human men can be fat and balding, snot-filled and awkward. They don’t need to beautify to attract. Probably because we value different priorities – the superficial takes charge as what matters sinks beyond the horizon line.
Human women, on the other hand, must pluck and primp, lose weight, gain height, paint their faces with makeup and fluff their thinning hair, to lure a man. And if, by some chance, this does not happen, it is a special man who sees the beauty behind the real surface.
We have it so backwards.
We are mucking everything up.
It’s not surface that attracts, nor is it quantity that begets quality. We must stop accumulating and start living in our souls if we want to survive.
The world is populated with so many humans. We live longer, thinking that better, but look at what happens later in life. Look at how crowded we are, at the things we do to think we are getting ahead…killing elephants to trade their precious ivory tusks, killing rhinos for the same reason, thinking we are superior to all the other species.
It is we who will die out sooner, for our own arrogance translates to stupidity.
When will we learn?