February 2, 2010

The Cage

I began reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel last night and there was a fascinating chapter about animals living in nature versus animals living in zoos. He talks about how animals living in zoos, if given the choice, won't escape. Is life worse for animals in zoos? They have medical care, a home, and never have to worry about food supply. A drought won't kill an elephant in a zoo. Ah, but the freedom. Freedom is worth the insecurities, right?

Why do humans, the animals most capable of adapting, tend to stay in the same places their whole lives? Hell, the reason for our evolution is figuring out how to give up nature. For every Jack Kerouac we romanticize there are a million that never stray too far from home. Do we really embrace freedom that much more than the chimp that closes it's own cage? Is a weekend in Wisconsin really stepping outside of my zoo? We have ties to people, places and things we love. I'm skeptical that the grass is greener, I kind of like mine. I wonder if it's any coincidence that iron bars are standard for Chicago residences?
Image taken from: http://www.doglovergiftbaskets.com/files/1586691/uploaded/proselect%20empire%20cage%20open.JPG


  1. I spend time in Eastern Germany and it's always interesting to ask people what it was like for them growing up in Communist East Germany. The surprising answer is, almost steady, not bad. Like the zoo animals they didn't have to worry about shelter or food or jobs. Those things didn't come at a high standard, but they were always there. And they got a annual holiday at the North Sea.

    They just couldn't leave.

    Now they have their freedom but lack of security in the essentials of life. That's why a lot of older East Germans miss the old way. They don't know how to do Freedom (capitalism.)

    Yet, would I, or they, say that Communism is better? No, they wouldn't. Despite the struggle that comes with capitalism and democracy, it's still the best way.

    On a personal note, I'm a mover and a traveler.

  2. Hmm, interesting point. Personally, the fact that I could drop everything and leave my current life at any time is rather soothing to me. The idea of being locked down is terrifying. But that's just me.

  3. I really want to read that book! Ill put it on my list!

    PS I seriously can not wait. :)! sun here I come!

  4. I moved from CO to WA HUGE change. no family. It was the hardest thing Ive ever done. We wtill might move back to our cage when we have kids. Family is just so important. I totally get not wanting to leave your home town.

  5. Elle: That's very interesting. Another example I thought of later was the high recidivism rates for people in prison. It's an interesting phenomenon.

    Sarah: I love the idea too. I just wonder why I haven't put it in practice. I guess I'm lucky in that I get to live in a great place like Chicago that has a high level of awesomeness.

    Laurel: Are you glad you did?

  6. Sure everyone says they want adventure, but this is simply not true. Not everyone can do it. Memories of all things warm and familiar suddenly began to tug at your heart. That being said, I would love to leave 'home' and discover the world 'outside'.

  7. We won't escape from our secure places either, unless it becomes unbearable.


  8. Donut girl: I think its a lot easier to discover the world than to change where your located. Most people tend to get homesick after a while it seems.

    Secretia: Permanently? I agree.

  9. it's interesting, to me it's the opposite...my gypsy spirit has been so hard to tame...until i bought my house, i moved once a year if not more...whether it be to a new residence or a new town or new neighborhood, i have always loved packing up, cleaning out, and creating a new sanctuary...something always looked greener...buying my home actually forced me to look at my life in a new way, find new way to 'change things up', and establish roots...but my friends are still from everywhere (parties at my house are so fun that way)...and while i may have lived many adventures through this, i still had my own rules that restricted me in their own way - cities only, western u.s. only (narrowing that to the coastal states after a bad year in denver), etc. and now that i've had a home for 3 1/2 years? i have changed the furniture, created the garden, anything to continually improve while letting the roots grow. kind of a nice compromise. :)

  10. Hey, I have an award for you on my blog. I came here to tell you that but now I see my comment here earlier never save and I am bummed about that. It went something like... the grass on the other side is overrated. Darn it, it was good, now I lost it :)

    Anyway, it was an awesome post!

  11. Nice. I cannot be tied, hinged, nor kept in one place in the least. I don't even like, people to monopolize, nor attempt to control our conversations! Ha ha ha. This could be more, of a need, from the inside of a person. I reckon, if my spirit was a little bit settled; It'd be easier for me, to settle down with my downhome handsome- first true love and do what almost everyone in my hometown does! Animals, instinctively need to be wild, and free. After awhile, what it knows~~Is what it knows. Like, the frog in a pot of water; If you drop a frog into boiling hot water it will hop out. If you put a frog, into water and slowly bring it to a boil it will stay there, Thus being cooked, to death! Same goes, with the common housefly. If you put it into a jar, with a lid, it will not cease to try and fly out...after awhile, of the lid being on, it learns, theres a lid, and when you hit it and run into it full force...IT HURTS....After a while, take the lid off, and the housefly still-will not try to fly up and out...It thinks, the lid is still there! Good post....Nice post. I'm reading some Literature pieces for a Women's literature class I am taking. I am really enjoying it...I am finishing up the latest Sherman Alexie book, I've got some very heavy art books, About Mary the Mother of God....I loved, 'The Highest Tide.' It's a quick read, by an author from my homestate....You might like it...

  12. I am definitely a wanderer, so I can't understand that. I feel like if your connections with people are true, you carry them with you forever, so the need to physically stay in one place is one I've never understand. I also moved 1500 miles away from home on a whim, though. So I'm probably not the best person to talk too, lol.

    The thing to remember is that animals are different than people though. People can communicate-I call my mother to the point of harassment sometimes (it's fine, she likes it, lol), but animals don't have that capability. So I wonder if their stay has more to do with getting seperated from members of their pack, and fear of the unknown (as there are no chimp friendly travel guides, and how would he ask for directions?), not to mention a lot of zoo animals are abused and possibly afraid of what would happen if they got caught again. It also depends on how good the zoo is, I think. If I was an otter in some crappy petting zoo where I was barely fed, and my water was dirty...well, that's a lot different than being an otter at say, the San Diego zoo.


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