boggle (verb): to be astonished or overwhelmed when trying to imagine something
My mind is so easily boggled. It only takes one thought, popping in from God-knows where for absolutely no determinable reason, to set me off. I had decided—trying to trace how or why I decided it back to its roots is too convoluted to bother with—to write a blog about the differences and similarities between the estimated five million life forms existing on our earth. Yeah, that subject can be easily handled in less than 1,000 words.
So I set out thus:
Despite humanity’s hubris, the fact is that we are, biologically, simply one of an infinite number of living organisms inhabiting a little dust-mote of a planet in a grain of sand solar system in a pebble of a galaxy in the endless mountains of the universe.
The limits of the human mind make It impossible for us to comprehend the complexities of even one of the species existing on our one planet, let alone grasp the interrelationships between them, but I find it fascinating to give it a try. It’s rather like a small child spinning around and around until he grows so dizzy he falls down.
The relationship and interactions of individual member of any species to the other members of that species can easily evoke awe. Bees and ants, for example, are communal to the point that each member is, infinitely far more so than humans, an integral, interactive part of the whole, responding in uniformity to given stimuli as though sharing a single mind.
The individual members of probably the majority of species are solitary, coming together with other members of their kind primarily for the purposes of propagation. Having done so, they move on to their individual lives.
Some species like spiders and ladybugs and cockroaches coexist and gather in huge numbers for no readily discernible purpose. Some, like huge schools of fish and flocks of birds or bats cluster together primarily for whatever protection from predators their numbers may provide.
Many larger animal species gather in herds for mutual protection against predators. But those species with a higher degree of intelligence, like elephants and primates such as Man, gather in groups both as a matter of mutual protection and in response to the simple comfort being with others of their own kind provides. And the more intelligent the species, the more important some degree of social interaction becomes.
It is interesting that dogs are pack animals while cats (with the exception of lions) tend to be mostly solitary.
The natural responses of species to their young is also fascinating, and once again intelligence and these reactions are strongly related. The further down the intelligence scale, the less involved the individual tends to be with its young. In many species, the young are born either completely on their own or with a minimal involvement by, the parents’ only obligation to them being to enable their birth; once born, they’re on their own. Species with higher intelligence—again, on an ascending scale—tend to produce young who cannot survive without the care and protection of their parents. The more intelligence, the more care seems to be taken—and needed. Dogs and cats need parental care and protection for the first few weeks or months of their lives. Elephants, whales, and primates (including Man) are responsible for caring for their offspring for varying degrees of time following birth. Human children cannot survive without considerable help from other humans for several years (being raised by wolves, for example, is highly unlikely). The earlier the separation from parents or caregivers of ascendingly intelligent species, the less likely the survival.
And I’m going to stop here and try to back-pedal to more solid ground before I’m swallowed up completely in this vast boggle.
But one thought did come to me as the complexities of this single subject multiplied and multiplied again: How, with so many things of vital importance to the existence of life on this planet, can we allow ourselves to be bogged down by the words and actions of incredibly mean-spirited individual humans to the point where we lose our perspective on what really matters in life? Think about it and get back to me.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).