Against The Odds But We Go With The Flow The Mythology Of The Possum

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The Mythology Of The Possum

Most of the less complex animals, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles probably have a worldview along the lines of ‘it just is’ and accept whatever comes – go with the flow. But once you consider relatively higher and more complex animals like birds and mammals, then the complexity of the brain becomes such that, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligence and the ability to think and figure things out have to be taken into account.

Humans may be at the top when it comes to being smart and inventing things, but that doesn’t mean every non-human life has the IQ of a microbe. I strongly suspect that birds and mammals develop a personal worldview mythology that they see and experience every day to their satisfaction.

Further, for all animals that develop direct or indirect relationships with humans, it is necessary to develop a personal mythology that is comprehensible from their larger worldview that places us in their larger picture. That mythology, their POV is obviously going to be wildly wrong, but they don’t know it. They, in all honesty, cannot understand the sum total of the experiences they share directly with human activity, and so to some degree or other they develop a mythic worldview that somehow explains what humans do in their own context. However, sometimes humans feature only indirectly and therefore their POVs do not involve humans in any shape, way or form.

So the purpose of this short essay is to discuss those animals (ie – birds and mammals) that directly or indirectly interact with humans (in a good, indifferent, evil or god-awful way) even if they have some sort of human-centric mythology. Not aware of this. Taking a particular animal as an example, consider the following story of a possum.

I have a possum that comes into my back yard all night. I know it because I see his poo; In fact I once saw that silhouette against the light window of my front house. Probably the possum didn’t see me; He is a creature of the night and I am a creature of the day. Now most possums hunt at night, foraging for food. This Australian winter in the nation’s capital, Canberra, has been typically long and bitterly cold, so, out of sympathy for a symbiont with a much harder life than mine, I took to dropping an apple in the early evening. . The following morning, it was gone – there is an apple. Now I, as an intelligent man, know all the facts of the matter. I buy an apple; I leave the apple; A possum finds and eats an apple. However, I can’t help but wonder, from the possum’s point of view, what happens to this night’s gift of apples, apples that appear where there isn’t an apple tree for miles around?

A few assumptions are in order. I assume the possum has some intelligence, an IQ, the ability to think and wonder and think. When something ordinary happens, it makes an impression. Translated, the sun rises and the sun sets – nothing out of the ordinary. Considering this fact of life most likely, I doubt it. The tree they live in exists day by day – not much to think about. It is warm in summer; cold in winter; Some days it rains; Most days it does not rain. But that everyday apple has not been part and parcel of his worldview mythology till date.

So, something new, beneficial but unexpected materializes. Does the possum put it down to luck, fortune, clean living, being in the right place at the right time, or does it think deeper?

Now the first time an apple is seen on the ground it is eating – unusual but strange things happen. Every evening an apple appears on the same spot on the ground – the same spot that does not benefit the apple tree. It is not in line with our normal expectations and experiences of the possum. Because from the possum’s world view it is not something natural and normal, but something extraordinary; It is something magical; This is something supernatural; This is something supernatural. Perhaps there is a supernatural possum deity who cares for possums in times of need, such as in winter when food in general and apples in particular are scarce.

And so perhaps our possum has developed the idea that there is something bigger than the natural world it uses. Possums probably develop a mythology of a possum deity who cares for all possums like himself. It must be ‘all possible’ because I assume our possums have no concept of good possums vs. bad possums and only the former will be unaccountably rewarded for the apple (possum manna in heaven).

But maybe I’ve seen him put down an apple from the solitude of his tree, in which case maybe I’m the great possum god. If other humans can see, are they also gods, though not possible gods?

Since these regular apples appear in the same geographic location night after night, could (my) backyard, (his) backyard turf impart some unusual properties to our hungry possums? In our possum’s worldview myth, could that piece of land actually become our possum’s sanctuary?

Now the possum’s perspective will no longer be based on language, and it will not be able to communicate its worldview mythology to other possums. Instead his perception would be based on his five senses, most prominently in all likelihood vision. He can imagine, imagine in his mind, some super-sized (Santa Claus type deity) delivering apples without the words ‘apple’ or ‘possum’ or ‘god’ or ‘visitor’ or ‘human’. It will not have words for ground or ‘sacred site’, but rather a mental image that this patch of land is extra-special. Such an image, unlike the words we use, would not be out of the question.

Well, you know and I know that there is no possum deity, nothing mysterious or supernatural going on, no holy place. I know what’s going on – some farmers, hundreds of miles away, sell their apple crop to a company that hires a distributor who trucks them to Canberra and they go to that company’s local supermarket. You know it, and I know it, but we can’t expect a possum to know it. If this possum communicates with possums (it can’t), it won’t tell the story of a kind man buying an apple a day and leaving it to be eaten by possums, little does that distant farmer know. , company, distributors, trucks, supermarkets, and all the infrastructure that implies, etc.

It would be interesting to have a conversation with that point and find out exactly what his current worldview mythology is, although that is beyond our ability. But, I bet whatever it is, it’s wrong! Still, let’s walk a mile in its paws and try to see things like that. That much we can do. I’ve tried that, but chances are I’m wrong. There is no real meeting of minds here. Although I came face to face with the possum, I could not communicate with it; I couldn’t convince him that his POV was wrong.

However, just as each possum has its own unique worldview mythology, each human has a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything. The difference is that in most cases we can share that perspective with others of our species.

Now the point is that our fellow mammals have a flawed POV in their worldview mythologies, which we know are wrong, but don’t, which may or may not include humans; Do we humans have a flawed POV when it comes to the mythology of our worldview? The parallels between mammals (our possums) and humans and our collective worldview mythology may suggest that we too have some flawed understandings about life, the universe and everything that needs further and constant exploration and expansion. In that broader context, perhaps we can even sympathize with the possibility that we, too, may have flawed worldview myths in terms of entities superior to us.

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