Last Saturday, we took advantage of the annual Brew at the Zoo (a kid-free zoo!) and enjoyed an outing to the local menagerie. I found myself drawn to the gorillas, who were quietly surveying their domain as they perched atop the hillside. They seemed unimpressed and undisturbed by the commotion around them. Their monkey minds appeared calm and peaceful. Gorilla Zen.
It made me wish I had a different monkey. My mind is more like the tamarins, running and jumping around their enclosure, chattering their opinions to all who pass by. I wanted to trade my hyperactive beast for a calmer, more regal one.
Luckily, I was at the zoo, surrounded by professional monkey-wranglers. Little did I know, there was to be a lesson in store.
We made our way to the orangutan exhibit for feeding time. The keeper was throwing apple slices to each ape in turn. The guy hanging out in the ditch wanted to make sure he wasn’t forgotten.
I learned that the eldest male had been raised by a researcher and had learned over 200 signs. He kept signaling “more” to attempt to encourage additional treats to be thrown his way. His son, a precious little 1 1/2 old, was standing nearby. The big guy never let him directly catch an apple, but he made sure to feed him bits from his own mouth from time to time.
As I watched the alpha male communicate various desires with the handlers, I inquired about the relative intelligence of orangutans and gorillas. The handler responded with a chuckle, “Oh, the gorillas are smarter, but they’re too lazy to want to learn much.”
Those placid monkey minds that I was ready to exchange mine for had a downside. They may be calm, but perhaps they are too calm. I can call my monkey mind many things, but lazy is not one of them.
I want to model my monkey mind after the orangutans. They were inquisitive, yet not anxious. They are independent, yet social. They are intelligent, yet playful. So, maybe they are not as Zenlike as the gorillas, but they fully embrace their nature.
It’s time for me to embrace my monkey mind too. Even if he won’t stand still.
- Taming the Monkey Mind: a 28 Day Meditation Challenge (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Total Immersion (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Graduation Day (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Experimenting on the Monkey (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Shaving the Monkey (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Halfway Point (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Natural Habitat (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)