(This is a ramble of thoughts. It has nothing to do with homesteading......well, not directly, that is. So this is just a warning that some of you may not be interested in this meandering set of thoughts. Feel free to delete.)
The first thing I want to say is that I see animals for what they are. They are simply individuals trying to get by with life. They aren't cuddly biological toys. They aren't nature's regal icons. They aren't empowered by attributes, assigned to them by animal right activists, animal huggers, or agencies working the raise money, "humane societies" attempting to attract supporters. They are just individuals that got born, try to live as comfortably as they can, live within the rules that govern them, and do what comes naturally.
I've always been animal oriented. It's part of me that comes naturally. As a result I've learned from them, just as they've learned from me.
I see a lot of people who list the top 10 things to learn from animals. It's the current "thing" - making lists of the top ten of something. Some items on the list I agree with, others I believe are misinterpreted. Either those people never lived with enough animals, or they mistakenly assign behavior to their animals that are inaccurate. But you know, perhaps you will view my own list with the same attitude. Perhaps you'll say that I'm wrong. But in truth, I'll only be wrong in your own opinion, your own interpretation. As I've stated, I'm a realist, not a spiritual animal hugger.
... Life's basics are important. Food. Shelter. Health. Stable environment. Sex. Every animal focuses on this. The fluff is superfluous. They don't care what color or style their housing is. Nor if the latch on the gate is the latest techie "in thing". Nor if their food arrives in the latest model, jazzed up ATV. They don't need their collar to be the latest fashion nor cost $500. They don't consider what the neighbor's think.
... They live by rules. The rules vary from species to species. Most rules come from their environment and their instincts, but they may also have individual imposed rules if they are herd/pack type animals.
... Friendship matters. There are different levels of friendship. They can have both casual friends and lifelong true friends. True friendship lasts a lifetime.
... Community matters, depending upon the situation. Being part of a community can help one get through life easier. Some species are designed around the community aspect (herds, flocks, packs), while others are not.
... Race (that is, different breeds of their species) matters little, oft times not at all. Color matters even less.
... Life is about your interaction with your environment plus a whole lot of luck. Life happens. Some individuals have the genes to take advantage of a situation, or the status and community support to do that....others don't. That's life.
... Life isn't fair. Actually I should say, life happens, both the good and the ugly. But the bad stuff happens even if you're good and live by the rules. Shit just happens sometimes.
... You are what you are born. A carnivore is simply that, a carnivore. Same for an omnivore, a vegetarian. They accept who and what they are. They don't try to be something that they are not.
... Love is unconditional. They seldom demand that their mates change to please them. They don't set conditions for their "marriages". They are always happy to see their mates (or owners) if they reciprocate.
... Take a nap. No apologies.
... Live in the present. While recalling the past or planning the future is important to most animals, living for the moment has incredible value.
... Be curious but cautious about new things. Investigate. Observe. Watch body language and nature signs.
... Touch. My animals body-touch all the time. They rub and touch each other, they want to touch me in one fashion or another every time we greet. Touch is powerful.
... Enjoy the outdoors. Feel the sun, the shade, the wind. Smell the air, soil, rocks, water, plants, animal life. Be connected.
... Keep yourself groomed. They groom themselves several times a day.
... Develop a routine. A routine helps promote contentment, general wellbeing, overall happiness.
... Be silly if you feel like it. Don't worry about what others will think.
... Live in reality. Religion, spirits, superstition, "woo-woo" isn't part of the real world.
... Not everyone is born with a sunny disposition. From what I've observed with my animals, it's a combination of nature and nurture.
... Don't waste time hanging with the negative individuals. Make your bonds with the positive ones.
... You are what you eat. What you eat has a huge bearing on your health, both physical and mental. Eat what your body needs to be fit and healthy.
... Stay active.
... Look to the future. I've hear people say that animals don't understand future. I totally disagree. They look forward to mealtime, look forward to enjoyable routines. I've had animals that knew Saturday and Sunday were different from weekdays, and acted accordingly. They anticipated various activities, such as car trips, bath day, etc. They look to their future with hope.
... When there is no hope of a future, it's time to die. I've seen it in their eyes. When hope is gone, they are ready. I don't mean when they are depressed then they should be killed. Or when they are in a bad situation that they need to get out of. But when they know, when they have lost all hope of having a future and that situation can't be changed, then it's time. Dragging things on and on, as humans are apt to do, make no sense to them.
Things I've learned NOT to do......
... Don't bite my neighbor in the face. Just because you're in a bad mood or didn't get a cookie, biting the next guy in the face isn't a good idea, and really just ruins your day. "Bite in the face" = yell, threaten, attack, or otherwise display negative behavior.
... Don't be bossy, moody, and aggressive. My animals avoid or shun those types, so unless I want to lose all my friends and acquaintances, acting like that is a majorly bad idea.
... Don't tease. It's not appreciated, can cause severe emotional damage, plus ruins a good relationship.
Animals have taught me to look at myself. What am I? I am a primate. Thus I have a innate need for touch, for love, for friends. I am instinctually tribal. I am an omnivore. I have certain environmental needs. I can see the past, present, and future. I harbor certain innate fears that I needed to learn to overcome or control, such as suspicion of the dark, of strangers, of strange places, of change, of the unknown and unexplained. I am who I was born and taught, but I have moved beyond that. Unlike some of my animals, I can change myself. Change isn't easy for a primate, but with incentive and desire, it can be accomplished.