We are the only species that quantifies effort, needs it to lead somewhere– to accomplishment, accolades, self-satisfaction.
As I sat on the porch in a state of stillness and peace I rarely experience, it dawned on me that, apart from certain domesticated species, most of the animal kingdom, while spending its days focused on propagation and survival, doesn’t waste a second wondering if someone is noticing their efforts, or evaluating their performance. They just do what they do—scurry about and flit and fly. Raise their young, store up for the winter.
They don’t live up or down to expectations, they don’t get caught up in comparisons, they don’t feel sorry for themselves. I don’t know if everything they do is purposeful, but it’s easy to get the impression that there is no wasted effort.
Do they feel joy, sense freedom, or, in the case of birds, sense the envy of us earthbound beings who dream of flying? Probably not. “How can they be satisfied with their existence?” we might think. “They do the same thing every day.”
Ah, boredom. I guess it’s not suprising that the species with the most highly developed brain is the one that has the most trouble finding value in the luxury of being still.