People Love to Talk and Animals Love to Lounge

Meerkate lounging at San Diego Zoo

Pet owners and safari lovers surely notice that the seeming aim of the animal kingdom is to secure time for lounging. Once their bellies are full, there are no to-do lists and frameworks to abide by. For this, we are envious.

Humans are not so different (myself being one of them I can speak certainly). We go through quite a few extra abstract steps to get there, but ultimately we are trying to lounge. Set aside the extremes, like addicts and clinically depressed folks that cannot get out of bed. Looking at the so-called average person, I would suggest that we have a combined weakness and advantage like no other in the animal kingdom: Language.

I understand that we are discovering the scope of language across the animal kingdom — notably in dolphins and primates — but let’s face it, gang, our throats and our brains are built for language. It is to the extent that some of us speak many languages, while a select few can do that plus study the languages of the animal kingdom.

There is this weakness, however, and it is the reality of language. Just think about this. You may spend a full day inside your house, especially during the holidays, doing nothing really but shooting the shit with your family and friends. 

Look at yourself from a bird’s eye view. There you are, sitting at a table for hours, just making sounds out of your throat and doing nothing in particular. You aren’t lounging, you are probably reliving past experiences, sharing stories, listening and thereby living vicariously through other people’s stories. You may be world traveling and having direct arguments with the President! From your head. We love language because it produces a more exciting reality.

“Storyline Fever” is a new song out by the late David Berman under the moniker Purple Mountains. He was a genius with language. The realities he spun can be surreal but they frequently take you outside the self and into the primal and universal truth. We can work ourselves up into a fever with language, or transcend ourselves.

Our brains in western neuroscience are viewed as the seat of intellect and consciousness and this is accurate, but eastern (especially Chinese) science has long viewed that the seat of intelligence and enlightenment is in the heart. The heart does not have the storage capacity that the brain has, but it knows what to do with the information.

In America, our hearts are separated from the brain, so they are constantly firing out of sequence. It makes for a very messy social-political-economic order. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds about this, I am observing a broader truth here.

When we don’t practice the alignment of heart and brain, we are guided excessively by brains. The problem there is that the brain is just relaying possible scenarios. It is the vessel, not the captain. The reality most likely to be accepted with this kind of misalignment will be the one that produces the strongest emotional reaction. Because we are not accustomed to the subtleties of the heart, we only accept the grossest signals.

The repression of the Chinese through an economic structure forces the heart into submission, although, I would say it is better expressed to say that the heart is captured, as Chinese folks abide in the political-economic order to an unhealthy degree. Their enhanced intelligence is pointed toward totally materialistic aims, because that is the structure of a communist government where religion has mostly been replaced with materialism. The Chinese are crushing it, by the way, because they have long understood how the heart works.

We really should watch ourselves with the realities we’re spinning with language, in our heads, in our dining rooms, on our Twitter accounts, and remember that our brains are a vessel, not an identity. There in that brain you store your identity. Who owns that vessel? One can only say God because there is no taking that body with you, as we say of our possessions.

There are volumes written over the course of human history about the argument between the everlasting self and the self-identity associated with the body, that is, spiritualism versus materialism, theism versus atheism. I am a student, not a professor. But we can say something for sure about all this: Watch it. Watch those thoughts, watch those realities, listen to the subtleties in your language, get above the realities you are creating for yourself, and maybe then you can lounge it off.

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