DO CREATURES GOOF OFF?
I’m sitting on the back porch out in the country on a bright summer day. No one is around, except me and a host of nature’s creatures going about their business. Or are they? Lore and observation inform us that some of them are real grinds, workaholics, constantly on the job, needing no breaks or requiring supervision. “Busy” bees surely fit that description. As “workers”, they’re continually buzzing about, tirelessly committed to locating flowers from which to extract nectar, after which they “beeline” it back to the hive. An idle bee? Unthinkable. The same is true of ants. They always seem wedded to the task, consistently on the move, often lugging enormous (for their size) pieces of material or dead insects back to the colony. Not out for themselves, they labor tirelessly for the group and to satisfy queen ants who depend on them. Watch a bird build a nest and you’ll witness non-stop activity. Back and forth, carrying leaves, twigs and other building materials, the bird cannot be distracted, sticks to the task at hand. A spider is usually no different. To observe him building his net is to witness total concentration and commitment. The web provides the lifeline to survival so this cannot be a casual undertaking – and it is not.
But is there a brighter side here; moments when creatures actually enjoy themselves? Is it all work and no play for them? I can’t believe they don’t take breaks, carve out some personal time. In short – goof off. I suspect it does happen. How else am I to interpret the sight of two squirrels chasing each other from tree to tree, leaping across limbs, then scampering across my lawn at breakneck speed? What about those birds chirping happily as they soar over treetops and glide gracefully, alighting on a convenient branch? And the butterflies. What are they up to? From what I can determine, they’re flitting here and there with no particular destination in mind, simply exhibiting their exquisite colorations. Then there are the fleas and the flies that swarm around on a regular basis. Do they not take great delight in buzzing past my ears, causing me to flail my arms awkwardly in futile defensive movements? Are they born sadists or just having fun at my expense?
It could be that I don’t get it and that I’ve committed an error most common by attributing human motives and actions that simply don’t apply to those creatures? Then again, their lives are usually short and most precarious. Don’t they deserve a break now and then?