As Real As It Can Get - Words for Wednesday


There is this scene in Star Trek, First Contact where LCMD DATA and Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard are standing next to a converted Titan ll missile (The Phoenix). Picard touches the weapon and DATA are confused by this very human action. Picard remarks that he had seen this ship several times at the Smithsonian but wasn't allowed to touch it. Picard tries to explain to DATA that touch is a sense that for humans make things seem more real. DATA places his hand on the ship but is lost on how this makes it seem more real. When I first saw this movie and gave it some thought, I’d be hard-pressed to explain the concept to a child much less a non-human.


This morning as I go out the door to go to work, I come across the everyday scene of the cats taking their after-breakfast nap. The boyz are on the comforter, curled up in the familiar spirals. What I’d seen countless times as cute but never gave much thought to was that Moshe Moshi is always curled up around Jake; like a child clinging to a parent or a lover holding on to that which he adores. His head always had to touch Jake in some way (same was true for Maus; her head always had to touch Jake). An epiphany… and suddenly that scene makes more sense to me, from both characters’ perspective.

As humans, we always say we have 5 senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste). Though all of these senses can work individually, we require two or more to confirm the one. DATA could experience these senses individually, but could not connect them in concert. Maybe the reason why the boyz hovered around me so much lately is that they need confirmation I am here, It’s not enough just to be fed and have the litter box shoveled. They require interaction, my scent, the saltiness of my skin, my weird hair, the funny sounds I make when I sleep. They require all of it, after all, they’re only human. It’s easy for people to dismiss the needs of animals. They don’t experience life as we do as far as ambition or community; they have the instinct to depend on. However, that does not make them far removed from assessing relationship or safety or happiness. I as give thought to my own happiness, maybe I need to think more of theirs and how they experience life.


Like the movie, this post will make more sense to you later. Maybe I should have explained this using Enter the Dragon...next time.

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