There used to be a section in the New York Times Book Review where an established writer was asked whom they would invite for dinner, alive or dead. So today’s prompt is relevant to the dinner list, (well for me lunch or coffee time list is more fitting) which comprises people I wish to have as wise and pleasant counsel.
I want to have people who are well-read, open-minded, understanding, cultured, patient, and confident, with a sense of humor devoid of sarcasm. I want them to be older than I am, at the Judge or old stage according to Shakespeare’s seven stages of life, because they have withered the vicissitudes of life to live to tell. Of course, not all mature people are wise. However, still, I would feel more comfortable being in company with them to talk about the woes of life than with MZ generations who regard the preceding ones as something medieval, if not ancient or prehistoric.
Therapists or counselors are paid to give us advice, but what if you don’t have the resource or are unlucky to meet a good one who can show you precise feedback with a touch of humanity? So I envy those who have people whom they can turn to for wisdom, not criticism under the pretense of grain of salt.
A week has passed since the Beluga whale died in transit from the Seine to the sea. The question remains with the image still fresh on my mind refusing to fade away with my heartstrings pulled in all withers: did he break away from his kind to find a treasure island like Jim did? Or did malice of fortune take him away from the tribe on a lark to see if he could make it back to where it came from? What is the meaning of all of this anyway?
He had no name because he had so little time to live in this world, and I mean the Beluga whale stranded in the Seine River in Paris, France, and ultimately died in transit to a sea last week. No one knew why he swam all the way up to the freshwater, which was not a typical habitat for the whale species. IT wasn’t the first time to see a whale end up in the river following an orca in May that died of natural causes, but the Beluga whale still lingers in my mind a week after his death. Maybe it’s because of his ever-good-hearted-looking appearance that oozes out a sense of pathos from my feelings. Whatever it may be, he endeared me like my two-year-old tabby tom Toro, and I had been following his tale of the river, which seemed to me his journey to the resting place – among humans with whom he might have cherished good memories. Maybe he disliked his kind, so he ran away from there. Come to think of it, are we also not in favor of our superior humankind when we can’t take any more violence, disappointment, betrayal, and arrogance?
Although I admire the efforts made to revitalize the Beluga whale and to send him back to the sea, I cannot help thinking that there should have been more professionally effective operations to achieve the noble human intention to save nature. We live in an information-saturated, expert-ridden global world, but why is no such help readily unavailable in dire need? Are outstanding vets only for YouTube channels and other media outlets via which they can amplify their view to lucrative celebrities? But the argument is futile since he’s gone. By recording what my heart feels about him, I want to pay tribute to his incredible journey to the human world by himself with kisses and tears. Good-bye, my Beluga whale.
Whether it is my animal zodiac sign of Tiger that is believed to be highly incompatible with anyone with that of monkey, let me just clarify that monkeys are my least favorite animals. However, that doesn’t mean that I should not feel strongly about the article from a recent issue of BBC Wildlife about the U.K.’s primate trade accompanied by the title photo of the baby marmoset named TikTok. Call it milk of human kindness. I cannot just leave the pages closed and forget about it as a piece of memory. The images and words still haunt me, which prompts an enduring reckoning, resulting in writing this essay.
The primate trade in the U.K. and here in the States evokes the human history of slavery. Under slavery, human lives were counted as chattel, and the families were continuously disintegrated because of volatile trade-offs. On the same token, keeping primates as pets seems no less different from colonialists or slave owners whose eyes were set upon the exotic physical attributes of the people they subordinated.
The article has also taken me to my brief research into the U.S. primate trade with the following facts: in 2012, 19 states, including California, where I live, had outright bans on private monkey ownership. The primates are considered a threat to wildlife and public safety and health because their habitats and nature are not agreeable to our environment despite our conventional knowledge of primates as the closest to our species lost in the evolution tree. Come to think of it, the idea of “Planet of Apes” has a point in reversing the directions of gaze from humans to apes, and vice versa, showing us why the two species could not cohabitate by confining them in the opposite environments.
We should not think of animals as live toys or ornaments that will satisfy our whimsical, capricious tastes. From pets to wildlife, animals are not our property but companions. I know it for sure when I feel a little heart of my cat Toro sleeping at my feet.
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