17 Things Only Humans Will Understand

17 Things Only Humans Will Understand July 27, 2015

Inspired by those nifty BuzzFeed articles (“10 Things Only 90’s Kids Will Understand”) I decided to create a similarly nostalgic, identity-affirming list, but instead of appealing to a particular group, I want to leave everyone with that warm sense of belonging. So without further ado, have 17 cute and hilarious situations that only those who belong to that tribe homo sapien will ever understand.

1. That moment when, alone among the great apes, you blush to be seen naked.


As if, in a universe of unveiled and uncovered animals, you alone are best seen covered, hidden — an insecure ape, a monkey deeply ashamed of being seen as a monkey.

2. That moment you really, personally and intimately consider the fact that you will die, cease to be, stop — flicked off the face of Mother Earth like an unpleasant scab. And then you keep playing Mario Kart.


You might envy the plankton or the cow, which gives no evidence of living under the shuddering weight of an inevitable death — but then again, can a cow play Mario Kart?

Pros and cons, kids. Pros and cons.

3. The capacity to know that human sexuality is nothing more than a drive for the reproduction of the species — and to subsequently orient this reproductive drive towards sexualized images of Sonic the Hedgehog.


Thus proclaiming, in one moment, our freedom from the fixed drives and orientations of the biological world and our complete and utter inferiority of sexual habit compared to, say, the evolutionary-appropriate humping of Rhesus Monkeys.

4. That moment when you die because your mother didn’t hold you.

5. To know, absolutely, that the universe is reducible to causally determined, physical exchanges of matter and energy, and that any act we perform is simply the latest movement of atoms and quarks, a movement with its beginning in the very origin of the universe. To know, then, that everything we do is really just the continued trainwreck of the Big Bang, playing itself out with strict necessity, such that we might say, quite honestly, that it is not I who do but the universe who does in me. To know all of this — and to still hold your friend personally responsible for stealing your Pokemon game.

6. That moment when your own existence becomes a problem, and in the midst of rocks who don’t question their rockness and dolphins who are not known to pause and consider what it means to be dolphin, you ask a sky that does not worry what it means to be a sky…


…ousting yourself as the singular point in the Cosmos which is a problem unto itself, a black hole, poison in the well, a cog in the Cosmic machine that became self-aware and has no idea what to do with itself.

To which the sky responds:

…because, really, that’s a human thing.

7. To live in a world in which the best science tells us that all our actions, thoughts, attitudes, cultural mores and social arrangements are driven by our basic drive for survival, a biological tendency towards the preservation of life without which evolution would be impossible — and to subsequently kill ourselves, because you know what, the foundations of evolution can take a flying leap when it comes to humans.


8. That moment when you make art.

9. That moment when, in a world driven by utility, in which everything we do has some biological end, we stop to draw (draw!) an image (an image!) of a peach we will not eat, of a woman (naked!) with whom we will not mate, revealing ourselves, once again, to be an aberration of nature, a horrifying anti-animal animal, who can deliberately unplug from the purportedly unavoidable influence of stimulus/response and biological necessity, and consider things apart from drives, wants, desires, and tendencies as objects of contemplation, existing for themselves — and desire nothing more than to imitate their form of existence with lines and shapes.


10. That moment when you, an ape in a world of things to eat and climb, begin to ask for the names of these same things. You treat them, not as physical objects in the Cosmos, but as ideas, identities that continue to exist even when not physically present, so that a tree can be encountered just by hearing the word “tree,” inaugurating a life in which the entire Cosmos, through language, has the capacity to settle in the human head.

11. That moment when, in a universe in which every known animal is limited to its specific environment and interacts only with those things that concern its immediate needs, you, a mammal among mammals, interact with such things as “the rings of Saturn,” “nothingness,” “Guatemala,” and “Frodo Baggins.”

12. That moment when, though every animal that has all of its physical needs satisfied tends to sleep, we satisfy every possible physical, emotional, and social need possible — and start to panic.


13. That moment when you, healthy, happy and sane, grow incredibly hungry, make yourself your favorite meal, set it before your nose, and refuse to eat it, for the simple reason that you can, and that where every animal is observed to obey its drives, your drives obey you, dammit.


14. That moment when you, healthy, happy and sane, don’t stop eating when you’re full, nor drinking once your thirst is stated, nor copulating once your drive for copulation is quenched, making yourself horrendously sick and exhausted, for, where every animal is observed to obey his drives — your drives obey you.


15. When, in a universe that follows a strict temporal order, from event A to event B, you love the children you haven’t had yet, an age you’ve never lived in, a friend who died 10 years ago, the “ancestors” you’ve never met, and the future of a nation you will never experience, splitting open like an egg and spreading out over event A’s, B’s and C’s in memory, anticipation, and love, leading to the wonderfully miserable fact that you will never “get over” the death of your loved ones — they will continue to live with you.

16. That moment when you desire more than the physical universe can possibly offer — everlasting love, eternal life, the resurrection of the dead, justice, etc.

17. Secretly longing for terrible, apocalyptic scenarios…

…when the basic rule of biological existence is to seek safety and comfort, indicating that there is something even more terrifying about safely and comfortably existing to the point of death then there is a zombie apocalypse, a sudden hurricane, or a universal state of war.

These, among other things, only human beings will really understand.

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