Nothing Doing - Doing NothingThere I sat, in the dentist' chair, watching the TV while the hygenist performed a two quadrant root planing. Not the most enjoyable experience even when she had applied topical and then local anesthesia, but I was managing. On the TV an elephant was standing by a waterhole in Kenya. Live, real time. It was nightime in Kenya, so the camera was on infrared. Occasionally the elephant would reach down with its trunk, pull up some weeds and munch on them for a while. This happened about once every five minutes, it seemed. Other than that it didn't do much at all. I've been in her chair before, and seen a single giraffe just standing there as well. Neither the giraffe or the elephant seemed to have much on their minds; they just stood there. Reality check here: I don't want to make it sound as if there were only single animals standing at the waterhold. I got the link from her and tuned in at home. I've seen small herds of animals (wildebeest, oryx or something suitably African exotic), as well as groups of elephants and giraffes come down to the waterhole, mill about and jostle each other. The elephants and giraffes didn't seem to do much jostling, that was mostly the wildebeest and oryx. But there were also long periods where a single animal would be standing at the waterhole alone and this fascinated me. I could sort of see herbivores with this sort of behavior; even elephants whose mental complexities begin to approach our own. I haven't seen any carnivores on the camera, but my cat can spend huge amounts of time just lying in a patch of sun, however, and even though her mental complexity seems to be less than an elephants, I'm thinking that example serves to show that even carnivores can just sit, doing nothing. I come, as do you probably if you are reading this, from a species that doesn't sit well. The Buddhists call it Monkey Mind, that state where I'm thinking about all the things I didn't get done yesterday, things I have to do tomorrow, and things that, oh dear, I should be doing right now, so I can't just sit and enjoy the sun and breeze. I know, I know, some of you are experts in meditation. The Buddhists even have it down to a science. I've never been very good at it. I do better when I'm walking or reading. I'm still thinking but it isn't quite as right-now-necessary-activity focused. It may be that the movement of my legs walking or the flow of ideas from the book is enough to give me enough feeling of accomplishment. Giraffes have an eternal bemused look on their faces, not that I should be interpreting the internal mental state of a species so different than my own. I really have no idea what any look on an elephant's face means. I joke that I know what's on my cat's mind when she's look at me; prey. But if the animals of the African Savannah can peacefully stand there doing nothing, maybe I can too, when there's nothing doing that day. Or when I'm sitting for 45 minutes while my hygienist scrapes away at my teeth.
17 Apr 2023
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