In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Al Kesselheim is a Montana-based author of eleven books who is easing his way into retirement by taking a river journey each month. You can follow his trail at alkesselheim.com.
Wolves are an odd species. We have persecuted them more than any other wild animal, and yet they will stop to look at you, and occasionally take a step toward you. To me those moments are spiritual. That’s what we’re losing today.
I’m no expert on consciousness, but I’ve observed consciousness in other creatures my entire life. If we describe it as a state of being awake, being aware, then when you look at an animal, you see true wakefulness. Humans have created a sophisticated culture that serves as an insulating bubble, separating and protecting us from the environment, allowing us to relax such that we don’t have to be totally conscious. Most animals have to be at the helm of their ship all the time, or they die. They have multiple opportunities to die every day. Because humans don’t have that tension, our senses have become dull. Probably the only time that a human being experiences an animal level of awareness is in combat, where every second you might be in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle.