All About Animals, Part One

This weekend is about about Christmas parties for me, y’all. I have one tonight hosted by Kristina’s in-laws. Super nice people! The only thing is we’re supposed to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and it’s going to be 80 degrees today. Is global warming spoiling our festive spirit? I went online to find sweaters for Rune and me, and, believe it or not, I found a bunch by searching Amazon for “Ugly Christmas Sweaters.” The one I got for Rune has a “Clausometer.” It’s a dial with an arrow that measures the Christmas spirit of others and is controlled by the wearer with a little button he’ll carry in his pocket. Mine is a gawdishly (yeah, I can make up words, too) decorated sweater with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer traveling across the chest with LED lights like stream back and forth. Here’s a peek:

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Jamie: He was messing with me! I kept clicking “accept” and it wouldn’t come up.

She’s talking about accepting my FaceTime call.

Me: Oh! Erik! Hi, Erik.

Erik: Hi, Mom. Hi everybody.

Me: We’re going to talk about animals, earthly animals. Do they have egos?

Erik: Yes.


Me: Go onnnnnn.

Erik: Well if you’re going to talk about if they have egos, they do, because that helps them individualize themselves so that they fit in a role within their community. But if we’re going to sit around and talk about whether they’re egocentric, like being able to identify their ego and claim that they are better than others, then, no, not necessarily.

Me: Okay. Do they have emotions?

Erik: Yes!

Me: Really? And how are they—well I guess they’re different in different species, right? Like a dolphin’s emotions are probably different than a cat’s emotions.

Erik: You mean the range of their emotions, Mom?

Me: I don’t know. Tell me what I’m thinking.

Erik: Okay. The range of emotions or the depth of the emotions are going to be different because that’s based on—

(Pause as Jamie tries to figure out what he means.)

Jamie (To Erik): Okay, well then categorize it or dumb it down.

I chuckle.

Jamie: So he’s now doing an umbrella thing, and he’s going to talk about the four—

She laughs and looks at him.

Jamie: He goes, “Not two, not three, but four” like an infomercial!

Jamie and I laugh.

Erik: With the nervous system and how developed it is, how developed their consciousness is, so you can base that on the level of intelligence if you want, environmental stimulation, right? So we have an earthworm that’s dealing with a specific range of temperatures. Living above ground like humans, we have a wider range of temperatures.

Me: Mm hm.

Erik: The fourth is the ability of –

Jamie: He says, “emotional quality,” but I wanted him to say it differently because I think it’s going to go over—it’s going over my head, Erik!

Me: What do you mean by, “emotional quality?”

Erik: Their translation. Their ability to translate. That’s different than the level of consciousness or intelligence. It’s how you take that intelligence and translate it into emotions. It’s like intelligence is the car, and this other piece I’m talking about is the gas that makes the car go, or it’s how hard you push on the pedal to make it take off.

Me: Okay.

Jamie: So, he’s boiling it down to those four.

Erik: A lot of our animal nation doesn’t possess all four of these qualities, and they possess them to different degrees. That’s pretty much based on their environmental need, their purpose in their community.

Jamie: He’s talking about role-playing with lions.

Erik: Of course, the male lion has different needs so they have a different range of emotions than a female lion. She’s hardwired for specific triggers, and that will limit or contain the type of emotion. If you’re looking across the board at happiness, jealousy—

Me: Yeah. Oh yeah.

Erik: Jealousy suggests that we do identify with our ego. “There’s something over there that’s different than mine,” or “You’re doing something that I don’t approve of.”

Me: They have that? Earthworms don’t have that, do they? I mean, don’t you have to have a certain level of intellect?

Erik: Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

Me: The jealous earthworm!

Erik: That can be the name of our children’s book.

Erik and I in unison: The Jealous Earthworm.

Me: Guys, we were talking about maybe the next book we can channel a book for children from Erik so he can explain some of the things he explained in his second book, or well, his first book. All right. So dogs and humans. Tell me about the difference between those, emotion-wise.

(Long pause)

Jamie: Erik’s talking about the level of domestication.

Erik: I’m assuming when you say, “dogs,” that you’re talking about a domestic canine. Wolves, coyotes—

Jamie: He’s naming other canines.

Erik: That branch has a different intuitive sense that leads to a different range of emotions. With dogs being so dedicated to a servant role and having been with the human culture so long—

Jamie (laughing): He just paced right behind me and goes, “I’m just going to fucking say it.” Say it, man!

Me: Go! Say it!

Jamie: He’s driving me crazy!

Erik: I’ll take dogs, and I’ll take humans, and I’ll put their emotions on the same level.

Me: Okay.

Erik: They understand protectiveness, jealousy, happiness, loyalty, fear, excitement, loss, grief—I’m running through all of these emotions and needs and they’re so similar to ours. I think what’s missing is our human language [to describe the nuances.]

Me: Yeah. What about cats? Are they similar to –

Erik: Similar. I put them, in many cases, above and right below human experiences. They don’t line up as equally because they’re not driven so intently for that loyalty and community. They’re hardwired to say, “Okay, this is not working. I’m standing alone now. I’m good with that.” They can very much survive like that, and that heightens different kinds and sets of emotions.

Me: Okay. Is there any other animal whose emotions are similar to humans like—

Jamie points to me.

Me: Not earthworms.

Erik: Dolphins?

Me: I was just going to say that!

Erik: I was waiting for you to say it.

Ah, that’s why Jamie was pointing at me. She’s was trying to get me to say it at Erik’s insistence.

Me: Yeah, I was just toying with the idea of letting him come up with it and not put words in his mouth! All right, so they’re similar.

Stay tuned for Part Two Monday, and y’all have an excellent weekend. Mine will be spent, in part, in my continued yet futile effort to resurrect my knockout roses. Wish me luck!

If you want to see if your question was answered in the first Ask Erik column, check out the Sedona Journal of Emergence. It’s in the Predictions 2016 edition. This is s great publication. You can subscribe or buy the single copy January 1st.

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Elisa Medhus

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