The way I see it, there are two ways to approach life, each of them are reflected in the two most popular domestic animals on the planet. A great many more homes have a dog or cat than any other kind of pet – and often this is a mixed choice with some combination of each.
Sure, there are all manner of animals, reptiles, birds and fish that grace homes with their presence and their company as well. In the right areas there are even wild animals which find some modicum of domestic life suitable and, while never quite being household pets, they live quite comfortably by comparison to their wild counterparts.
None of these are the focus of my writings this evening though. No, tonight we will talk about those fluffy members of our home ensemble known as the dog and cat, even though we give them their own personalised names as well.
There are similarities between cats and dogs. Both have fur, both have four legs and both have tails. Both live on a diet best described as “omnivore” with a level of flesh and plant included. The differences include the fact that one can be significantly larger than the other, one is largely restricted to ground level and the other will happily make use of any horizontal surface, sometimes the higher the better.
One tends to be taken for drives in the car and for walks while the other is left to curl up on the couch, bed or handy window sill to nap for large parts of the day. One likes to chase cars and bikes and the other enjoys chasing birds, mice and whatever happens to be moving, including shoelaces, necklaces, earrings and will make a meal of hands, leaving them shredded.
Aside from all of the above, it is their approach to food that teaches us something about ourselves. Give a cat food and it will much and chew its way through it, literally making a meal of every bite.
Give a dog anything, from a scrap or treat to a full meal and the result is the same, they wolf the food down at a tremendous rate in the hopes that when it is done there will be more forthcoming. It doesn’t change, whether they are a puppy or a full-grown mutt, the dogs just never tire of ravenous displays of eating.
This is where we find our similarity. Are we like cats, enjoying every bit of our experience, savouring it for what it is and enjoying that we have it, or are we like dogs, wolfing down what we have – no matter how much or how little – while we focus on what is next, even if we aren’t done with what we have.
Both of these people exist, but what impact do their life choices make on their enjoyment of life? Let’s consider that a life well-lived is perhaps the greatest rational ideal any human can strive for. If this is the case, do we define “well-lived” as the number and variety of the experiences or do we define it by the quality of the experiences?
Personally, I lean toward the quality rather than the quantity. Be present in what you do, where you are, what is happening and draw from all of it. Slurping and gulping your way through a glut of experiences with no real involvement ultimately means very little, at least in my opinion.
Think about what you are doing, when you are doing it. Are you getting the most from this moment and are you present or are you a million miles away, thinking of other things and waiting on the next thing to happen?
On a final note, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 awards were announced a handful of days ago, you can go and view the winners here. You might find it a very good way to start your week.