Sunday, February 1, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
- Running under the sprinkler in the backyard.
- Slip 'n' Slides.
- The sprinklers that used to be on every park and sports ground in the country. You know the kind that went chick, chick, chick, chick, chick, chick pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff, chick, chick, chick..? For me now, that sound perfectly captures the essence of the type of Australian summer that we might never see again. It's actually what lead to this current bout of nostalgia.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
What is the Meaning of Life?*
A very complex question with a very simple answer: to reproduce.
That's it. Stay alive long enough to shag and ensure another generation. If you live long enough to make sure that next generation reproduces… well that’s just a bonus.
All of the rest of the stuff that we fill our lives with is just puffery but it's puffery that fulfills the initial purpose of reproducing.
At its simplest, life is a struggle to secure the basics of existence such as food, water and shelter.
Back in the olden days, before stamp duty and gated communities, family groups would fight over the most desirable locations to raise a family; whether that be the driest part of a cave or a location safe from predators. As humans evolved, tribes formed and they fought over land. A sheltered place near a water source would make for an easier existence and therefore a good place to raise your family. As civilisation has evolved, so have our reasons for fighting, not to mention the scale at which these battles are fought. Sometimes it is still about land but since our global game of musical chairs has all but ended, it is often about sustaining our way of life. Whether that means ridding ourselves of a threat (war against a different ethnic group), or securing resources (invading another country for oil… not that that’s what happened in Iraq of course.)
Not only do we want to be able to sustain a basic level of life, we also want to try and guarantee the best chance of our survival and that of future generations. To that end, we not only fight other groups of people, we also fight amongst ourselves. Competition between individuals arose to ensure that offspring had the strongest possible combination of parents. This doesn't necessarily mean the most physically strong. It might mean a longer neck to reach difficult food sources like a giraffe. It could also mean the smartest in a tribe that needed to use basic tools to obtain food, water or shelter.
Women (and I’m talking historically speaking) are attracted to strength so we have created games to show off our strength and the strongest athletes are often revered. A star athlete is held in a similar regard to that of a silverback amongst gorillas. Sport also reflects the way that males in many species will battle- be it with teeth, antlers or hands- to prove they are the strongest and therefore win the right to choose the best mate (or the best eighty if you’re a bull walrus.)
Men (again… historically speaking) will look for a woman with the best potential for breeding. Curvaceous hips suggest that she will give birth easily. Large breasts indicate that she will be able to provide adequate milk for her babies.
Now in these times of baby formula in a can and ‘C’ sections, armies to fight our battles, police to defend us, supermarkets to supply our food and machines to do our lifting, these traits are not the be all and end all of the reasons that we choose a mate. That Pamela Anderson, Anna-Nicole Smith and a legion of football players have attracted so many suitors would however suggest that old habits die hard.
It’s not just strength or physical attributes that we desire; intelligence plays a role as well. We humans are a fickle bunch and will take whatever advantage we can. If you were an early human woman and had a choice between the strongest guy in the village when a sabre-toothed tiger attacked and the guy with the smarts to create a spear and a door for the cave, whom would you choose? Or, to give you a more modern spin, would you choose Mike Tyson or Bill Gates?
Of course, if early he-man beat early geek into early pile-of-bloody-mush he'd still get the girl. That might well explain why human technological progress has been so slow until recently.
So in a hunter/gatherer tribe, a woman probably looked for a strong, healthy, intelligent male who could protect the family and be a good hunter to provide food. A male would want a healthy woman able to produce healthy offspring and the intelligence to know the best grains, berries etc. and the best ways to source them. Nothing much has changed. Whatever you do, whether you are the President or a hot dog vendor, at it's most basic your life is about trying to prove you are the fastest, or the strongest or the smartest so you can find your ideal mate and then secure food, water and shelter for the family you create together.
Or maybe you’d settle for having the best hair and a quick shag? Even if you’re single, the small day to day things you do are done to attract or select the best mate. You want money so you try and get the best job that you can to help you attract and have your pick of the best mate(s). The clothes you wear, car you drive and house you own all reflect your suitability as a potential partner and provider. As such, you want the best of everything to show that picking you would be a good choice. This is the same way that the peacock with the brightest feathers will attract the best mate
Things have changed a lot since we climbed down from the trees or since God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden depending on your point of view. We've gone from a brutal day to day battle to survive to a fairly cushy lifestyle. We've progressed from individual to family, through tribe and village, on to town and city to countries, allies, trading partners and now onto a global community (in progress).
Your food used to come from what you could find or kill. Most tribes were nomadic, traveling to where food and water were most plentiful depending on the time of year. Eventually we learned how to farm and could cease our nomadic existence. This meant that we could create better, more permanent shelter, select and grow our own food. We learned to domesticate animals, identify the traits we most desired and then breed them for wool, leather, meat, milk, eggs and more.
The way we source our food has changed dramatically. You can now buy prawns from Vietnam or truffles from France in your local supermarket. We now earn money in order to pay farmers, abattoir workers, meat packers, truckers and butchers to provide us with meat rather than rearing the animal ourselves or clubbing it over the head in the wild.
That said our basic goals are the same.
So all of this- your car, your house, your six figure salary, one thousand dollar suit, two thousand dollar watch, three thousand dollar flat panel TV, bulging biceps, sparkling smile, winning personality- all of this, is to help you reproduce.
As Bill Bryson pointed out in his 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', you are here because every generation before you managed to stay alive long enough to breed. It doesn't matter who they were, where they lived or what they owned just as long as they managed to produce an heir before they popped off this mortal coil.
It doesn't matter if a mammoth trampled a male ancestor after sex or his mate died during childbirth, just as long as they produced another in a long line of DNA carriers that lead to you.
That none of your ancestors got mauled to death, ate the wrong berries, pissed off someone with a better weapon, fell in a ditch and broke their neck, froze to death, drowned or any number of other things that could have befallen them before they had the chance to breed, generation after generations, is accomplishment enough.
Conversely, it also doesn’t matter if your ancestors discovered fire, the wheel or gravity, whether they were roman senators or discoverers of new worlds, whether they owned the first model ‘T’ or set a land speed record… unless of course it got them laid.
Because it doesn’t matter who they were or what they did (unless they were rich and left you money thereby increasing your attractiveness to the opposite sex) as long as they lived long enough to reproduce.
So next time you’re wondering whether you need a new car, or a new plasma television, if you’re wondering whether spending a thousand dollars on a new wardrobe or jumping out of a plane is a good idea first ask yourself… will this get me laid?
Or if you already have kids and are thinking of locking them in the car on a hot day while you duck into the shops or go and play the pokies, stop a minute and think, “is this really the best thing for future generations?”
And that is the meaning of life.
*The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the author, even though he wrote them, especially not if his wife finds anything offensive. Seriously, the big boobs thing is a biological fact.
Any content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as a means to interfere with his chances to procreate… or at least spend a lot of time practicing... please.