I Wish I Were A Dolphin
“When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered: “Man….
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Sitting at my perfectly disorganized desk next to an SAT prep book and school schedule, a number of thoughts swirled around my overly stressed mind. Tenth grade, the fabled relaxing calm before the monsoon which is junior year, was not all it was cracked up to be.
As I fidgeted in my chair musing on a topic for my English II personal essay due the next week, the little college counselor in the back of my mind continually chimed in with his thoughts and “expertise.” What can you write about that would be easy? What would your teacher like? What would get you a good grade? What would show your unique character? As all of these thoughts floated around my mind, I began to wonder why all of these things mattered to me in the first place. Although school is meant to push students to develop a love for learning, I realized that the only reason any of these things mattered to me was because I, like many of my peers, had aspirations of going to a prestigious college. I was a mindless servant to schoolhood ambition, a small peon in the College Board’s intricate plan for world domination. I would be willing to stress myself out throughout high school in order to go to a college where I would be equally stressed and get a high paying job, where, of course, I would be stressed.
I would retire after a life full of stress, and look back on my life with regret that I “didn’t enjoy my youth”. Although I was completely aware of this, it wouldn’t stop me from examining every word written in my essay with a surgeon’s precision, knowing that one mistake could kill my patients, my grades. It is often said that in the extensive animal kingdom, humans are by far the smartest animals. The creators of the Internet, the fire, Netflix, and sliced bread, of course humans are in a category all by themselves.
Without humans the world would never have progressed past the Stone Age, and life for all creatures on the earth would be much worse. Animals would be forced to live in their natural habitats, forests would have to live a long and mundane existence as forests instead of being chopped down to become Cinnabons and Lucky Brand Jeans, and the ozone layer would have to live without its beloved hole. The world would be forced to suffer a life without wars, deforestation, the forty-hour workweek, and Dick Cheney. Coming in at a far from close second on the list of the world’s smartest animals is the dolphin. Without opposable thumbs, or hands for that matter, the dolphin never has the privilege to make a Facebook profile, type an equation on a calculator, or pull the trigger of a gun. The dolphin lives a simple life, consisting mostly in eating, sleeping, and procreating (dolphins, along with humans, are one of the two animals known to have sex for pleasure). During times when humans get to fill out paperwork, most dolphins are probably suffering through an extremely tough nap. When humans are enjoying themselves in a traffic jam, dolphins are probably being forced to gorge themselves with as many fish as they please (and they never notice they’re in dire need of Jenny Craig!). While humans are relishing the chance to pay their gas bill, dolphins are probably dreading the time they must spend having sex with their mate.
The distinction is clear; dolphins won’t surpass human beings in intelligence in a billion years, because they already have. Yes, they already have. However, the chances of humanity as a whole realizing this is about the same as the chances a green party candidate gets elected president, possible, but highly unlikely. Thousands of people go to Sea World to watch Shamu jump through hoops, few realizing he was stolen from his family and natural habitat. Tourists pay hundreds of dollars to “Swim With the Dolphins” and feel as if they’re close to nature, when truly, they are solely funding its demise. Instead of observing Dolphins solely as the playthings of humans who can be taught to jump through hoops, humans should be learning from the carefree and fun-loving nature of dolphins, in hopes to be more like them.
When the Dali Llama was once asked what most confused him about mankind, he answered that he could not understand why human beings lived as if they would never die. Human beings participate in the biggest scam of all time, the Ponzi scheme to end all Ponzi Schemes, constantly working to receive a payment at the next stage of their life, be it retirement, the next school, the next promotion, or whatever, which may not even be there in the first place. People constantly believe the grass is always greener on the other side, but for some unknown reason, the other side is unreachable. That is why all humans, should try to live their lives a little more like dolphins. A dolphin does not worry about a grade, a promotion, or a 401k, a dolphin lives its life in the moment, a dolphin knows how to seize the day.
And as I sat writing , I realized that I myself should attempt to live life like a dolphin. That didn’t mean that I would abandon school and join a hippy commune, or would move to a shack in the woods to do opium and have visions, but that I would relax a little more about school and grades and college, and try to slow down and enjoy the moment that I was living in. Yes, I still would freak if I got a B- on my essay, and yes, I would still have aspirations of going to a prestigious college, but I would try, however cliche it might sound, to enjoy every moment of my life, because although teenagers tend to think they’re immortal, I’m not, and one day, probably sooner then I think, to the dismay of the entire world, I will in fact, die.