Yesterday I wrote an article stating that time is the only thing we cannot create. Any physicist, especially a man named Julius Robert Mayer, will consider this blasphemy. Back in 1842 he created a law stating otherwise. The law of conservation of energy. It states that in a closed system, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, just transferred between different objects in different form. Then Einstein came along and turned this idea on it’s head by asking how relativity plays a role. I’m sure we can name a few more things and continue to argue, but the point was that, for our daily lives we are stuck with the same amount of time.
My other point that demands explanation is the question whether animals are capable of creating. As I was sitting on my porch this morning watching the sun rise and playing some tunes, I saw a little bird pick up a couple sticks. I hit an off note, my ears hurt and the bird turned its head in disgust. It then flew away, far away, to go build it’s home.
Wait a minute, build it’s home? Isn’t that creating something?
Let me explain.
There is a difference between spontaneous creation and recreating from a plan. Spontaneous creation comes from previous knowledge and hand motor skills to make something new. A certain set of learned skills are used in combination with your brain power and a few tools and walah you created something brand new. The other way to create something is to work from a plan. A builder looks at the architect’s blueprint and builds the home exactly the same way it was done before, nothing new.
I bet that most of you create something new every day. You open your closet and assemble your outfit. This is the process of making something new. You take previous knowledge and apply it to match your clothing and produce a new look. When you tell a story you recreate the experience in verbal form. You use your vocabulary, syntax, intonation, metaphor and walah, a brand new story told.
Here is the question.
Are animals able to create de novo? Are they able to learn skills to manipulate their environment and create something new? If you take a small finch egg, hatch the baby bird, feed it and let it grow and once released into the wild, it will automatically begin assembling a nest. It will build its nest exactly like any other finch builds theirs. This is because nest building resides in a blueprint somewhere in the bird brain.
Animals are born with these instructions. Their instructions determine their behavior. A finch is born with the instructions to build a nest. A baby fawn is born with the instructions on getting up right after birth and walk over to it’s mother for a drink of milk. A human baby is born completely dependent on its parents. A newborn will certainly die if not taken care of. As a child grows, they have to learn different skills. They have to learn to crawl, then walk, then speak and ask for food. My three year old has learned the skill of pulling a chair up to the fridge, opening it up and grabbing the remaining strawberries from the top shelf.
For the sake of turning my argument upside down, we have found examples in the animal kingdom of creating de novo. Chimpanzees in the wild have been witnessed to take a stick, strip off all the leaves and stick it in an ant hill. The ants climb up the stick and the Chimp has a delicious snack. There you go. An example of an animal that can learn behavior from another animal, apply it to their environment, create a tool and use it. Chimp fishing for Ants
Do you still feel special?
Don’t worry, I don’t think any chimps will attempt to take over the world any time soon, but just in case, we have Mark Wahlberg to back us up.
The part that I find interesting is the satisfaction derived from the process of creation. In writing, film editing, building swings and climbing walls for my kids, it all gives me a sense of satisfaction. This is very peculiar. I see the power of creation as a very unique characteristic of human beings. I alluded to the idea that if an animal has the capability of metaphysical thought that they would see our brain power as a superpower.
This is what intrigues us so much about our animal counterparts. We see their abilities as super powers. The bee can see infrared, the hawk can see a mile far, the owl can see at night and the platypus can see electricity. Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spiderman, Iron Man, the Hulk and more would agree, he would definitely include some of these abilities in his superheros.
Unfortunately I can’t tell if a bee derives pleasure from seeing infrared, their antennas might buzz and their tail might wiggle when they see their favorite color flower but who knows? I can say this much though, my dog Shaka is obsessed with chasing a stick or a ball or a squirrel. As soon as he sees me hold a ball his tail starts wagging, he starts jumping around in anticipation. He hates it when I make him sit and wait after I throw the ball. His whole body shakes with excitement. He will run and fetch, run and fetch, run and fetch all day until his tongue drags on the dirt. He finds pleasure in the chase, the thing that he was born to do. He originates from the wolf who hunts for it’s prey. If wild dogs did not find pleasure in the chase they might starve.
The pleasure is in the creation. I wrote another article on this and how this idea may help depression.
This brings me to my point.
There are some things we cannot create. There are many things we can. Our lives being one of those. We are constantly acted on by external forces, pushing our lives this way and that. At the end of the day the change you make in your life depends on how much you push back. It depends on the decisions you make, from minute to minute ask yourself, does this decision contribute to my life?
Think about your misfortunes and success, is there a correlation to the decisions you have made in the past?
The ability to create is a very strong power. “With power comes great responsibility.”
You are your own creator, you owe yourself the responsibility.