From 8 hours to 8 months

They say change is constant but not as constant as life. Life thrives whether it’s Atacama or Tundra. [Photo by Adam Excell on Unsplash]

An arctic squirrel hibernates the longest — eight months, to be precise — among all living creatures on our planet. During this period, his body basically transforms into a non-decaying corpse with his heart barely beating and life loosely hanging onto the borders of his body. For humans, a task as seemingly effortless as meditation proves to be gigantic. I wonder what will happen to us if we were to stay immobile at a place for months on end. We can barely sit quietly for a few minutes; our restless mind doesn’t let us. So much so grabbing 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep amounts to nothing less than a celebration.

Enough of our miserable species.

Going back to that squirrel, when the spring breaks, he crawls out of his self-imposed stupor and crounches onto the ground as if nothing happened. He doesn’t stretch or yawn or admire the sun or go grab a nut. The bugger has a slightly different to-do list posted on his bushy tail. He goes looking for any probable rival on his turf. Without his territory — even if he spends nearly three-fourth of the year almost dead — he is nothing. So, he has his priorities sorted. Food can wait. Let’s fight first. Whoever wins owns the premise. Whoever loses would either have to migrate to another landscape or hope that he gets killed in the battle.

I thought about his behaviour and it’s quite easy to dismiss the rules of animal kingdom as petty. We call them animals for a reason. Humans are supposed to be civilized and not fight among themselves, right? Well, well. The only difference between a squirrel claiming his piece of land and us waging lawsuits to claim what we think belongs to us is that the former does it because there is no other way. Can we state the same for ourselves? I highly doubt it. Our tendencies toward natural resources are bent to devilish smiles. Left to our design, we’ll stop at nothing. Luckily, the hostile weather in tundra makes sure that humans don’t interfere in an incessant war between squirrels.

Knowledge is never absolute; the answers keep changing with time. However, it’s vital that we remain in touch with our questions. Given the haste we are in, which we conveniently call modern life, we seldom get a chance or two to even put ourselves through what is closer to nature than to our constructs. Our world, with its myriad assumptions, is an evolution of the highest order all thanks to the constructs in place. Some are physical while most are psychological And for some reason, nature is relegated to rural categories. Chirping birds, non-polluted sky and tree-laden roads are supposed to be in our villages. These cities can do well with its glassy exteriors and exorbitant air-conditioning bills.

Not to sound alarming (although almost all my blog posts are written in snooze mode) but we truly need to take a break and ask ourselves a very important answer: We are fine.

Answer because questions would be unreasonably hurtful given how little we understand what we are doing to our environment. In case we do manage to agree with the answer, then we can carry on with our idiosyncrasies. If not, it’s high time we buried ourselves a burrow and disappear for good before we do way too much damage.