There are patterns of humanity that are so obvious that they become invisible. The animal nature of humans becomes invisible as we daily live it. As our eyes let in the light, they simultaneously spray “human reality paint” over everything we see. Life as an animal means following your nature perfectly, seamlessly, with no coloring outside the lines. This isn’t a struggle, this isn’t forced. We don’t obey our natures, we ARE one with our natures. When you were a teenager, exploring new feelings and experiences at high levels of intensity, there were no breaks to do something else. At the end of the day, you didn’t hang up your teenage skin and settle into a hot bath to relax. At every age, you have done as you wished AS THOUGH it was free will when it was really your specific human-animal living its nature.
We don’t see the larger thing we are a part of …and this is our fundamental blindness. The blindness of the part towards the whole. We don’t see our human nature just as the fish famously doesn’t see the water. And this is a small part of what we don’t see. If we focus hard we can consider our animal natures, we can see them informing our actions…maybe we can even see them around the world echoed billions of times: The same general patterns of adorable babies and cute kids and teenagers, young marrieds, middle-aged and elderly. And we can see the castes of humanity as well, the poor and rich, craftsmen, warriors, entertainers, scholars, politicians, and priests. And all the styles of personality: Modest, canny, rude, sexy, moralistic, secretive, shy, or outrageous. In the interests of brevity, I’m not cataloging all the details, there are many more varieties but it is far from infinite. We have a limited color wheel of variation. We are the jumble of humanity, each one the center of the universe, and each a tiny widget in a cosmic machine.
The earth is covered in all its livable zones with humans acting EXACTLY like humans. We snap into the preset arrangements humans make like we were crystals forming. Trying to grasp the way our sacred, unique, personal lives arise from macro-level templated scripting and that both states are equally real and important is like pressing opposed magnets together. You can feel the resistance, it is like holding your hand in flame or your head underwater, it feels like disobeying common sense. Do you know why you can’t think long and hard about your animal nature? It’s because you are not supposed to. And it’s your own animal nature that stops you.
No matter what sort of creature you are, you are supposed to stay on task and not start thinking above your pay grade. You aren’t supposed to break the fourth wall and start talking to the audience.
That is the first level of blindness. The blindness to limits. “I am not an animal, I am a human and free to be anything I can conceive.” But certain restrictions apply. The basic human response to our own behavior (even as it frustrates or mystifies us) is: “I meant to do that”.
There is a story in every species. There are parameters, and do’s and don’ts: A “script bible” if you will. Each is a strategy, scripted and programmed. Each is given an allotment of free will and sentience encased within the borders of that strategy. Microbes less than insects, insects less than mice, mice less than wolves, wolves less than man, and man less than…less than something that man can’t really imagine because it is beyond our damn walls.
I told you all that to tell you this: There are levels of blindness above that level and there are patterns and meanings above that level. And if you think it’s hard to really grasp your animal nature and your free/not free existence, this next level is something almost no one perceives. What could that be? What body or pattern are we molecules or cells of?
The part we can see from where we are standing is the human hive. It is the millions of people forming an organism without knowing it. We say city, or we say nation, we make those distinctions but we can’t really feel the emergent thing we help to make. We cannot really relate to an autonomous oceanic organism with ourselves cast in the part of kidney, lung, or skin cells.
Do you think your cells perceive you, as you know yourself? Do they comprehend your loneliness or your love of being by the ocean? And yet they are the fundamental parts from which THAT you emerges. They are you, but they don’t know it. They go about your business but they don’t know it. And you go about their business but YOU don’t know it. And you are a cell in a non-perceived organism that doesn’t know you, but you work for each other. Both blind and both presumably part of something larger that neither of you suspects.
At the level of cells in the human body, everything is playing a part. They aren’t random meaningless “creatures” in an absurd universe, they are simple diligent agents working in a complex bureaucracy that they cannot conceive of. They also can’t know the highly specific role they are playing. What matters is that they do it and they do. And the parallel on our level is that you play a part (or perhaps many) in keeping the organism you are part of healthy and guiding its course. Your politics, spirituality, sexuality, and even your sense of humor play a part. Be you all the way, and…imagine the larger world.
If you have a hard time finding meaning in the universe remember your nature has you boxed in with an airtight seal. Information that is not about being your animal self is mostly kept from you. The fact that the lens you get to look through doesn’t show the meaning and value in life the way you hope to see them only tells you about the limits of the resolving power of that one lens. It might be that with this vacuum bottle open the whole goddamn universe is out there singing.