It’s funny how we human beings, though highly evolved in areas of intelligence and self-awareness in comparison with other living things, still resort to comparisons with animals to generate ideas about the merit of individuals or teams. We name our organizations after LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS to symbolize some set of virtues with which are supposed to be inspiring.
Meanwhile, endurance athletes use the term “animal” to describe someone that is strong in training or competition. To say about someone that “She’s an animal” is a compliment of perhaps the highest order. It suggests that an athlete is both physically strong and mentally tough.
I’ve seen some animals do inspiring things. A few years back, the nest of a squirrel family blew out of our big pine tree during a windstorm. The mother squirrel carried each of her young out of the ruined nest and buried them in a temporary nest she burrowed in the pine needles by the trunk, then built a makeshift nest as fast as she could up in the tree. Then one by one she retrieved her young and carried them back up to the nest. The naked, pink babies were unharmed during the entire process. And that was pretty inspiring. It took focus, planning and to some degree, endurance for that mother squirrel to make all that happen.
Earlier that year, I also watched a male squirrel pursue what might have been the female squirrel all over our maple tree. The male tried and tried to catch the female in hopes of winning her over for copulation. But finally, after twenty minutes of exhausting pursuit, he gave up and laid flat on a limb with all four legs hanging down past the branch. It was hard to tell what was more inspiring, the male’s ardor or the female’s selectivity.
Ardor is harder
That reminded me of that cartoon Pepe Le Pew. If you haven’t seen the cartoon(s), Pepe is actually a skunk with a poor ability to distinguish between creatures of his own kind and a black and white female feline who becomes the locus of his attention. She cannot stand the smell of him, but it is his assumptive personality that drives her away just as much. Ardor is harder to take when it is not aligned with some mutual attraction.
No animals in the pool
Perhaps that cartoon is one of the reasons why there are no animals allowed on the pool deck at the natatorium where we swim. It would not do for the women swimmers to have Pepe Le Pew types prowling the pool deck in search of love. It’s hard enough for women to get in a good swim workout without having to push away some guy in a black and white Speedo who smells like something worse than chlorine.
No animals on the pool deck indeed.