Though I don’t tend to imagine myself as an animal of any sort, I’ve been assigned to write an article about the animal I see myself as being (or aspire to become) when trying to fulfill my potential as a pedestrian, nondescript, run-of-the-mill sort of chap. I spend little time in any given day attempting to fulfill my potential, preferring to fantasize about what my potential is and fast forwarding as quickly as possible to the end result without ever acting on my goals, ambitions, and aspirations. Much of what I aspire to seems remote, too distant and removed from the present to ever be fulfilled by someone as mediocre as I am. Thus, my tendency to imagine myself as the person I am, accomplishing great things, might be counterproductive, since I don’t really believe I will ever become the person I wish to be. What if, instead of placing myself in my fantasies about the future, I tried imagining my inner animal pursuing my dreams—and doing so successfully?
The first step to completing this exercise is obvious: I have to choose an animal. Since I don’t particularly relate to animals, this is more a random task than a disciplined one. I guess I view myself as a mole or some kind of underground, nocturnal insect in my moments of vulnerability, when I am at my meekest. This probably represents half my waking hours and is the inner animal I am most comfortable and familiar with. It’s also the animal I have the most contempt for and the one that has least served my long-term interests. The Mole is the animal that passes up opportunities to better himself, fears changes to his surroundings or daily routine no matter how small or trivial, and procrastinates to the point of paralysis. This is the animal I embraced in my younger years but want to part ways with; to render him a marginal figure inhabiting the backwater of my psyche. Instead of looking at my reality—both real and perceived—and feeling that I am being held hostage by it, I want to become proactive, take the initiative, and vigorously pursue what I want in life with the belief that it will be achieved. Damn it, I want agency.
In short, the inner animal I want to tap into and harness is the domestic housecat. I can think of no animal that has come farther or gained more stature in the last 5,000 years than the not-so-humble but endlessly charming pussycat. Cats know what they want—unless it is deciding whether to stay in the house or go outside—and have the expectation that every want and need will be met in a timely fashion. Such confidence would seem to be based on history and experience. Most cat owners consider their feline companions to be their equals, if not more deserving than they of the best that life has to offer. A lone housecat can and will take up 50% or more of a bed no matter the size (of the cat or bed); demand to be fed and released from captivity at any hour of the day or night without hesitation; mercilessly and brutally oppress any animal incapable of defending itself; and turn any pile of anything soft into a bed at a moment’s notice. People bend over backwards to please these little fuckers and couldn’t feel more honored, privileged, or blessed for the opportunity. Meanwhile, I bend over backwards to please others and often feel slighted and taken for granted in the process of doing so.
At the end of the day, the unassuming housecat can curl up in a fetal position in whatever part of the house or yard it chooses and be satisfied that he has squeezed every ounce of potential in life’s reservoir of guilty pleasures. This is what I aspire to for whatever remaining time I have on earth. Rather than be held hostage and tormented by my inner Mole, I want to be the one making non-negotiable demands of the world around me. Cats do so effortlessly, with impunity, and sans the slightest hint of piqued conscience. In fact, I don’t even think cats have consciences. How freeing it would be to scent every nook and cranny in sight and be generously rewarded for doing so. Even obesity is seen as charming and cute when the lard is ensconced in fur, purrs, and has a tail. I have yet to see a human being granted such prestige as is bestowed upon the Felis Catus, let alone a hapless mole. No animal better represents the man I wish to become or contrasts so indubitably with the man I am today.
Having answered the question of what animal I would like to model myself after, one question remains unanswered: What am I waiting for?
By Greg L.