Ego and animals

Two of the blogs I read regularly are Honey Rock Dawn and The Daily Coyote, both written by the same woman (Shreve), someone I’d love to meet. She traveled across the country on a Vespa, fell in love, moved out to the country, and sounds as if she loves her life. Seems like a pretty well-grounded person to me!

The other day Shreve was writing about one of her horses, and came up with the following response to wondering why she has a world of patience with animals, not so much with people:

I thought about this off and on throughout our walk, and as we were closing the loop towards home, I thought perhaps it’s because animals have no ego.  And to work well with an animal, it is a requirement to have no ego yourself.  And I love that state.  It’s a requirement for true art, as well. (Art, to me, being the act, the transcendence which occurs in the doing, not the “product.”)  People, on the other hand, are so often dominated by ego.  Sometimes, it is so hard to remain without ego when surrounded by so much of it; sometimes it feels lonely to witness so much energy spent maintaining something that is, ultimately, false: it’s such a contest, but it’s all smoke and mirrors; nothing is ever won, and so very much is lost.

(See what I mean? Grounded. Wise.)

Anyway, it made me think about why I’m often more comfortable around animals than people. I’ve always thought it was because animals aren’t demanding: they’re predictable, always happy to see you, don’t care what kind of mood you’re in or whether you’ve done your chores. But hers is a good explanation, too. Animals have no sense of self; they just react to what’s right in front of their noses. They often reflect our state of being, can sense when we’re troubled. But they don’t force their needs on us. They don’t demand anything except love. And they give it right back, exponentially and unconditionally.

Maybe people should strive to be more like animals. Less egotistical. More giving and accepting. Less worried about the future. More content with what is, instead of what was or what might be.

Maybe if people were more like animals, I’d want to spend more time around them!

Anyway, you might want to check out Shreve’s blog if you like beautiful pictures, wild country, interesting animals, and fascinating stories. Oh, and the occasional smattering of wisdom.

Me, I’m going to ponder on the relationship between art and ego – tomorrow.

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