Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the Human Race

We in the Animal Kingdom recently held our first annual Conference on Human Affairs, which was hosted by the Nairobi National Park. By the way, that’s just your name for the place. We call it home. You might not believe it, but Internet service in Kenya is actually quite good. Many species who otherwise couldn’t have attended were able to participate via Skype. The eagles put on a benefit concert to fund that, so I guess they deserve some kudos.

The progressive faction in the Kingdom - mainly the dolphins and zebras, but a couple gorillas switched their votes at the last minute - managed to get the conference-at-large to pass a resolution stating that we should issue a communique to you, humankind. The resolution has your typical restatement of fundamental animal rights, over-reaching demands such as “humankind needs to evolve now,” and so on. But the crux of it was this: “We, the undersigned, being as we are in most cases the senior species on this planet, feel it is our responsibility to attempt to bridge the differences between you and us.”

As luck would have it, I got nominated to author the message. The conference leadership does not yet realize what kind of mistake they’ve made! My monkey friend, who is typing this in for me at this very moment, keeps reminding me to stick to the plan. But since I’m a bull, I can do whatever I want! Nobody’s going to take this bull by the horns, I can promise you that. So this open letter is from my perspective as a pure-blooded member of Bos taurus. To whatever extent my take on things happens to overlap with the concerns of other species, well, that’s a happy accident.

So, here I am, a bull’s bull. Intact, by the way. You’re the high-and-mighty Homo sapiens, with your opposable thumbs and reality TV shows. You all think we’re automatons. You think we go through life eating, sleeping, screwing, and chasing trespassers around our fields and meadows, and you think that’s the extent of it for us. You think we enjoy rodeos with those barrels and ridiculous costumes you wear and country music blaring over the loudspeakers. Or that it’s perfectly acceptable to jam those pointy sticks into our hides until we bleed profusely, all the while waving your inside-out clothing at us. Some of you actually dare to brag about wearing leather. Don’t even get me started about Rocky Mountain oysters.

I’ve never seen the inside of a china shop, and you’ve never actually in real life seen me in one. Admit it! All you’ve got are pathetically fake scenes created for the full-page ads in Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, which are either Photoshopped or just so obviously staged that even a moron ought to be able tell that I don’t belong there. Unrealistic expectations, I guess. Just so you know, confined spaces make me uncomfortable, so if by some freak of nature I found myself in one of those places, I’d try not to move around too much because otherwise stuff would start crashing down around me, and that would make me flip out. The Hulk ain’t got nothin’ on me when it comes to flipping out. It’s simple cause and effect, that’s all, but you people persist with this fairy tale. Some day, you will come to understand that I can see past your cognitive dissonance.

When I snort and paw the ground, and shake my head, that’s all it takes to get you to dirty your designer jeans. You’re all so predictable, I can play you like a fiddle (never mind that I have no fingers). By the way, I absolutely love to chase you fools through the streets of Pamplona. I do have to admit that the cobblestones get quite slippery with your blood all over it. But I digress. The point is, I act the way I do because I can and because I want to. It’s not that I’m incapable of appreciating the consequences. I just don’t care about your preconceived notions about how a multi-celled life form should behave.

The other species, especially the horses, dolphins, gorillas, and house cats, all have their own viewpoints on the human condition. But not the sharks, I should point out. Those guys really are automatons, don’t bother asking them for opinions. Since I’m feeling benevolent at this particular moment, here’s some friendly advice - you may want to rethink your approach to dealing with the raccoons and rabbits. They hear and see everything, they know what kind of fast food you eat, how you aren’t actually working late at the office even though your car is still parked in the lot, and so forth. One of these days, they’re going to join forces, and then you will be in a world of shit.

Was this all clear enough? I hope so. If you take nothing else away from this missive, remember one thing: we run shit around here. You just live here.

MurciƩlago, of the Navarra breed, on behalf of
The Animals

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taking a step towards becoming a better writer

I was talking to a friend the other day about creative writing. This is an artistic endeavor in which I've dabbled from time to time. You, the few brave people who read my blog, have been subjected to some of my experiments. Well, I feel like I want to get more serious about it. One of the ideas my friend and I talked about was adopting the discipline of writing every day. For most people, myself included, it takes a lot of practice to master something. So, I've decided to set myself a quota of writing at least 1,000 words each day, and do whatever it takes to meet that quota every single day. It's like exercising, which requires serious commitment if you want to achieve any results. I think this is a good analogy because it helps me feel confident that I can follow through. My physical fitness is a part of my life that I have turned around (with the help of my awesome fitness coach). It was hard and still is hard, but I've been successful, so I know I can do this, too. And I feel like I really want to try.

I got started yesterday. The output of yesterday's session is not suitable for external consumption. In fact, I doubt I would ever publish any of the daily material. It's stream-of-consciousness, poorly organized, and raw. The point is to get the words out first, then later choose the stuff that might be worth refining further.

I want to thank my friend, who shall remain anonymous here, for inspiring me to take this step. There are some other good practices that I will work on adopting as well. I do plan to continue publishing experiments here, because publishing your work is another important part of the process. I'll try hard to maintain some kind of minimum level of quality in what I post here, but I can't promise you'll like any of it. Please feel free to leave comments about what you like or don't like.