DO WE HAVE CHOICE OR ARE WE LIVING IN A ZOO?

  • October
    07

    Modern Day Mother Nature

    I love animals. Whenever I travel to a new place I make a conscious effort to visit the local animal attractions. I’ve been to zoos in Toronto, Florida, San Diego, Chicago, New Delhi, and Uganda but it never compares to seeing animals in their natural habitat without the confines of human amusement.

    I can vividly remember swimming with wild dolphins in the Indian Ocean. Untrained dolphins don’t nuzzle up beside you, give you kisses, or let you hold on to their fins for a joy ride. Since every abrupt movement sends them diving deep down below I had to adapt by swimming streamline. This allowed me to get so close that I could actually reach out and touch the pair of sleek playful creatures and somehow be connected to their underwater world. See my video here (Wild Dolphins)

    I’ve also swam with leopard sharks and sea lions in the La Jolla reefs, swam side-by-side with giant sea turtles in Hawaii (Oahu and Maui), and gone on a Serengeti safari in Tanzania, East Africa.

    Serengeti, Tanzania

    Serengeti, Tanzania

    I like turtles in Oahu, Hawaii

    I like turtles in Oahu, Hawaii

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    These ‘natural’ experiences are nothing like going to a zoo. In the book “Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar, she writes:

    Imagine the ultimate luxury hotel. There’s gourmet food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During the day, you do as you please: lounge by the pool, get a spa treatment, romp in the game room. At night you sleep in a king-size bed with down pillows and 600-threadcount sheets… There’s just one small catch: Once you check in, you can never leave.”

    No matter how luxurious and state-of-the-art a zoo is, it’s still a confined area with limited stimulus, predator-prey interactions, and lack of migration freedom. No wonder so many animals try to escape.

    Perceived Control

    I recently visited the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago where the zoo keepers were teaching their gorillas to recognize patterns of shapes. The gorillas would sit by a touch-screen monitor with shapes flashing in front of them. For every correct sequence of shapes they performed they were rewarded with small amounts of food. The tests are not to teach the gorillas the meaning or understanding of shapes, but pattern recognition.

    Gorilla touch-screen pattern recognition at the Lincoln Park zoo

    Gorilla touch-screen pattern recognition at the Lincoln Park zoo

    Does this bring more stimulus and perceived control to the gorillas? Are they happier even though they are still in captivity?

    The Human Zoo

    Many people refer to urban life as a ‘concrete jungle’. We are surrounded by concrete everywhere and often eat, work, play and sleep with 4 walls surrounding us. We follow our daily routine:

    Snooze, change, keys, coffee, park, elevator, work, FB, twitter, work, FB, lunch, sleepy, FB, Pintress, work, FB, gym, home, TV, take out, work, brush teeth, bed, TV, pass out

    We have perceived choice in the coffees we order, healthy fast food meals we eat, bargain heels we just scored, and the baby sitter we hire. But do we really have choice?

    Your Starbucks Recipe

    Your Starbucks Recipe

    Why do we need that pick-me-up coffee every morning to get us through the day? Why are we guilted by the number of calories we eat? Why do we need another pair of heels even if they are 90% off? Why do we need to work 15+ hour days to be able to afford a baby sitter?

    Do you have the freedom to do whatever you like?

    Or are you motivated by temporary security, material, and emotional entertainment?

    If you aren’t living your dream I encourage you to go exploring. We see through blinders that don’t always tell us the truth about our present situation. If you have a dream, goal, desire that you aren’t living, see what’s possible.

    LIVING YOUR POSSIBLITIES

    Where ever you are right now, grab a sticky note (or piece of paper) and pen and write down:

    1. My dream is (be as specific as possible):
    2. TODAY, (one step I can take to move towards that dream is):
    3. By ONE WEEK today, (one step that I can take to move towards that dream is):
    4. I will reach my dream by (this date):

    Okay, now actually do it. Yup, grab the corner of that bank statement and tear it off. I know, so much effort but this is your dream.
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    Your dreams are worth the effort because you are worth it.

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    Now, put that sticky note on your computer or by your bed and make it visible. Remember, you are free to change your goals and dreams. I’d actually suggest re-writing one every week. Now, cut and paste the previous list into an email, facebook or twitter feed. This will keep you accountable to your friends and loved one.

    Mine looks like this:

    1. My dream is to travel the World while working as a Naturopathic Doctor
    2. TODAY, I will apply to 10 more jobs as a Naturopath in South East Asia
    3. In 1 week, I will purchase my plane ticket to Thailand
    4. I will reach my dream by November, 2013

    I am a Naturopathic Doctor from Ontario, Canada moving to South East Asia for an undetermined amount of time. I will be going on my own and figuring it out as I go. Supporting others to feel healthier, family, and seeing the World are the dreams that I have been working so hard to achieve.

    thailand-sea2

    Please follow my adventures on my blog. My goal while travelling is to practice Naturopathic medicine but also learn from traditional healers and attend meditation/yoga retreats.

    What are your dreams? What choices will you make today to release your dreams from societal captivity?

    I hope to have touched, moved, and inspired you in any way.

    Be brave, be adventurous and live your dreams everyday.

     

    Reference:

    Iyengar, Sheena (2010). The Art of Choosing. Twelve: Hachette Book Group.


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