We don’t give Joel much screen time; however, on Super Bowl Sunday we made an exception and turned on the television. Prior to the Super Bowl we caught part of the Puppy Bowl, or I guess a story about the origins of it (on Animal Planet?), which was wonderful, because Joel LOVES puppies. So it was a great opportunity for us as a family to zone out together in front of the TV, and Mark and I could still feel good about ourselves, because we reasoned that Joel was getting extra time with his favorite animal, at least virtually.
But then the next show came on and we kept watching, and it was about island life for the creatures that inhabit said islands. Though these islands are tropical and gorgeous and surrounded by turquoise water, one shouldn’t be fooled, as, many times, these island environments are actually extraordinarily harsh and cruel.
The first segment featured a species of baby iguanas (or something of this nature). They were actually very cute (if you’re into animals without fur). Apparently on this island, during hatching season, thousands of these baby iguanas hatch under the sand, after which they poke their adorable little heads out, catching their first glimpse of their new world. Well, almost immediately, like within seconds, (and they’re somehow born knowing this) they must sprint for their lives and then climb for their lives to higher ground, as they will be chased by these nasty black snakes. (And there are thousands of them.) Many of the iguanas actually survive, as they’re quick enough to outrun the snakes, though many of them do not. (In most instances, survival, or lack thereof, appears to be the result of dumb luck.) So we witnessed a good number of these iguanas being captured and eaten by armies of nasty snakes. It was both disgusting and sad, and it was so terrifying that I asked Mark whether we should allow Joel to keep watching, and he didn’t answer me, so keep watching we did.
The next segment was about a beautiful white bird that laid its egg on a tree. Some type of predator then smashed its egg, and then the bird tried to sit on the egg (incubate it) anyway, because it was her instinct to do so. But she also knew something was wrong. She looked confused, and like she was grieving, at least as much as a bird can.
The final segment was about some species of baby bird. It hatched in the understory of the forest, and immediately seeds started falling on it. “If the fledgling cannot escape quickly enough to avoid the seeds,” the narrator explained, “the seeds will stick to her and weigh her down, and she will die a slow, painful death.”
The next scene featured the corpse of this baby bird covered in seeds. “Faaaa-tilizer,” the narrator declared in his perfect-for-animal-television heavy British accent.
Of course humans are far more evolved, so we have things like modern medicine… And we don’t have any predators… (Do we?)
So, in many ways, life plays out quite differently for us. It isn’t quite as brutal.
But, in many ways, I also think it is.