Learn from the microbe
Even the simplest bacteria or single cell life form has two directives, and typically, two only- move toward what sustains life, move away from what harms life. This plan is simple to execute moment by moment, and I have yet to hear of depression and frustration in these microbes. Yet they are single-celled, without thought as we know it; even a slug is smarter. We can learn from animals- how to build, work collectively, how to camouflage, the secrets of flight. We even observe how our pets learn, and we love movies about talking animals- even animated ones. But who is the more evolved, us or them?
As humans, we have the capacity to imagine, to dream, to read and contemplate the meaning of words. We have history, technology, and kids all seem to have screens of some kind with them (plus know how to use them). We can also do one more thing that animals do not, and that is to use our imaginations to project our desires. This takes us beyond moving toward life-sustaining, and avoiding life harming, into a whole new realm- that of the “if only I had more of.. or less than.. or looked like..” I can guarantee this is not about having more food or shelter, but rather about having a good spot in the best restaurant, and the type of shelter which compares favourably to what society deems ‘having arrived’ – i.e. being worthy, or more than (others). When these imagined desires -which we believe will grant all our wishes- are not fulfilled, we become frustrated, depressed, and constantly craving. Our thoughts are filled with feelings and images of lacking, less than, and comparison. Even when we ‘arrive’ we often discover that there’s another level to master, more people to get beyond. Through all this, not much space remains for gratitude, acceptance, appreciation. Stress and exhaustion take up a lot of space!
The crux of this piece is that we have a choice: appreciate being human, with the marvelous capacity we have to learn, evolve, contemplate what is beyond this life and this persona. Or be trapped by desires and cravings- based in pure illusion, and mostly remaining unfulfilled. Choose the former and your life is filled with meaning, appreciation; choose the latter and fail to be as content as even the simplest microbe.