Glued to my face, the binoculars zoom me in close. I lose track of everything else as I marvel at water droplet stars sparkling on whiskers, twitching facial muscles, rolling eyes, claw glimpsed as a paw reaches. So close am I, I am gamboling with them.
And yet…something niggles my gut.
I shift the direction of my head and watch the adults work on that beached log. I can hear their munching, though their backs are to me.
Disquiet ripples from my belly to my brain.
I return to the younger ones “playing” nearer to me. I fling myself into their activities through the magic of magnification. Denying my disquietude, I am mesmerized by intimacy with a family so unlike my own. Here I experience three generations enjoying each other’s company, teaching and learning the skills for thriving. No criticism or belittling that I can see. Everyone participates, allowances are made. Work and play seem seamless. Beavers belong to each other and to their world. Or so it seems.
They are fully capable of taking care of themselves. No need for transportation other than their own bodies well suited to their surroundings. No need for a grocery store, a bank, a job with health insurance, a mortgage – or even life jackets, paddles, and a raft. No need for anything other than what Earth generously provides, what they are born to be, living how they are meant to live.
I am quite frankly, jealous.
I suddenly begin thinking about how helpless we modern, urban humans are. We have no wings, so we build planes, rockets, balloons, and hang-gliders to fly. Because we can’t hold our breaths very long, we design diving suits with oxygen tanks and submarines to plunge far under the surface of the sea. We design little tiny metal rooms to put on top of a scaffolding which holds wheels, a steering mechanism and an engine. Gets us around faster than walking or running. We invent microscopes and telescopes, and yes, binoculars, to see farther than our optic potential allows unaided. Without compasses and gps systems, we think we can’t find our way home. We build amplifiers, speakers, microphones and ear plugs to manipulate our hearing capacities. The litany in my head loudly proclaims: without technology we humans are really pretty helpless.
I’m mortified by this recognition.
Who the hell are we humans really? Oh yes, I just remembered. We have opposable thumbs. But so do gorillas and chimps. Aha! We have imagination and self-reflection. We can think! A great gift, virtue and skill, and the reason for all our technological advances. But thinking, separated from life’s body, distorts, confuses and confounds. We are so afraid of acknowledging our vulnerability as modern humans, of losing our precarious hold on superiority, we have defined rigid boundaries for ourselves, which leave us feeling –
I can’t fill my emptiness fast enough. I yearn to be included. I stare and I stare, lost in the thrill of imagining somehow I belong, when suddenly – horrifyingly – fur rimmed brown eyes glare directly into my thinly skinned blue ones. I mean DIRECTLY. No accident. Eye to I through the binoculars. The unblinking stare confronts, accusing:
You obnoxious, intrusive voyeur.
Tethered to my neck by a leather strap, the binoculars bang against my chest…
The suspense was killing me! Eyes to I. Nothing quite like eye contact with fellow animal beings, Deborah. This story just gets better and better! Love the drawing. Gosh, you are a talented creative. Thank you!