Humans become teachers of habit
I always know when my Monnie needs a nap.
She, like so many other dogs, thrice circles around a certain location on the carpet (preferably within the rays of a sunbeam) and then curls up into a big old ring of paws, ears and one unusually oversized tongue. #BoxerProblems
But regardless of the specific spot where she ultimately plops, the loop-de-loop maneuver always occurs three times. Always.
Enthusiasts and students of the wild often wax scientific about such animal behavior.
In fact, various canine experts (many of whom are self-anointed, natch) will give you a scientific reason for the triple turn. The most common theory seems to be the one perpetuated via Wikipedia, that this is a trait transcended through generations of wild dogs that had to “pat down tall grass and underbrush to make a comfortable bed for themselves and their pups. The easiest way to prepare the sleeping area was by walking around in a circle.”
Hmm. Maybe, maybe not.
Similarly, there are those who study winged beasts with the same gusto. They quickly and easily explain away how certain birds (i.e. geese) fly in the V formation. Wikipedia’s got a page on them, too, yo.
“These birds carefully position their wingtips and sync their flapping, presumably to catch the preceding bird’s updraft — and save energy during flight.” Sounds logical, I suppose.
But that doesn’t explain why their feathered migrating cousins annually return to the same spot from which they up and left once the mercury dipped too low.
Pulitzer Prize-winning bird author Scott Weidensaul says, “Birds really do have a remarkable instinctive ability to home back to a particular place … (be it) the same back yard or the same tree.”
I guess rarely they’ll even find the same nest they vacated, though most opt for new construction in their old neighborhoods every summer.
I mean, how is this feasible? I honestly don’t understand how the brain the size of a pea can navigate more accurately than my very expensive GPS tracking system.
And, with no disrespect to Mr. Weidensaul, I think it’s because the birds, much like the dogs, are following those cretins at the top of the food chain, who are habitual to the brink of sheer madness. #StubbornHumans
Observe the homo sapien in his innate environment, the human dwelling place. Not only will he, his mate and their offspring sit in the same seat at feeding times, but also for pre- or post-meal activities. Take note of the spot each chooses for television watching, deck / porch sitting or even the side of the nest he / she selects for slumber. It is always the same place. #HabitualHumans
For additional analysis, investigators followed several earthlings to their places of worship, where they not only occupied the very same pews week after week but also became visibly irritated to the point of face contortion when upended or shifted … even if only slightly. #YoureInMySeat
The same results were found when I, er, researchers, tracked them to work parking lots, where they gravitated to the same latitudinal locale daily. Ditto the findings in restaurants where, whenever it was physically possible, the slid into the same booths visit after visit.
I do believe God’s creatures great and small are merely following the obsessive compulsive behavior of their leaders. Face it, we are teachers of habit.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to stake out my spot on the couch for the game tomorrow night. What? It’s for good luck. #WeAreAlsoSuperstitious
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who wants you to make a habit of reading www.patriciakimerer.com