Human husbandry

Let us talk about snacks. You know you want some. Well, you know some part of you want some. But we need to practice human husbandry here.

No, I am not talking about being a husband, despite the picture. I don’t have the experience to teach you that! I am making a twist on the phrase “animal husbandry”, the care and feeding of animals.

I am talking about the human animal that is our body and at least some of our mind. Now, I am aware that this is wrong and misleading. The idea that we are this pure spirit riding the animal body, an unrelated creature with a different and perhaps opposing agenda. This is a dangerous thought to hold onto as a worldview. The body and the mind are more than intertwined, they are more like the metal of a coin and its imprint. This is true. We are not separate beings, the mind and body.

And yet, let us take this metaphor further. It is a metaphor, kind of like a very simple parable, something used to describe something else. Not the thing itself. But let us take it a little further. In days of yore, say in the Viking age, it was the metal value of the coin that determined its value. You might cut a coin in two if you got something for half price, and it would work just as well. These days, of course, it is the imprint that makes a coin valuable. The metal itself is cheap and generally not very useful for anything else, or it would not have been wasted on coins. It is all about the pattern. Or in our metaphor, the mind.

In ages long gone by, it was also the “metal value” of the human that carried it through. Food was scarce, and especially food that was rich in energy, like sugar and fat. So if you came across something like that, it made sense to let the body eat as much as it could get away with, and come back for more if there was. After all, there would soon be less food again. Being well fed would give you the upper hand in survival and reproduction. Survival of the fattest, baby!

And reproduction… what a topic. In the wild, humans did not have all that many opportunities to find a valid mating partner. Also, life was short, and death came suddenly. You had to have a bunch of babies just to be reasonably sure some of them lived to give you grandchildren. Luckily one of the few threats that did not exist yet was sexually transmitted diseases, with the possible exception of herpes. So, you see what way this goes. It made purrfect sense to hit on what few targets you came across during your fertile years, unless something was horribly wrong with them.

Apart from that activity, however, running around too much would waste precious energy. If there was food nearby, a good idea was to eat it, and relax so your body had a chance to store up fat for the dry season. (Children would be the exception to this, as they urgently needed to explore the territory and their own limits and develop the survival skills to do this thing called life all over again.)

Today, things have changed a bit. Pretty girls are everywhere, and so are chocolate cakes, hamburgers, and couches. TV satisfies our curiosity without us needing to lift our plush backside until we drag ourselves to bed. The human animal is in hog heaven, as I think you call it in English. Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, there are some problems with this.


This is why, for instance, if you put the snacks in the same room as the magic mirrors, the enemy has already won.  If it is the TV, the human animal will quietly feed while you are concentrating on the story unfolding on the screen. If it is the computer, you will get distracted while working on your spreadsheet or letter, and snacking will make you able to concentrate again, mysteriously, although it needs to be repeated from time to time.

Unlike your friendly barnyard animal, your human animal has as much brain as you have. In fact, it has your brain, exactly. Sometimes you will fool it, sometimes it will fool you. Which is not a big surprise, since it is you.

This is why we need to keep the food in the kitchen, and if possible have the home office at least one room away from the kitchen, preferably two or three.  (Due to the rational layout in my current apartment, I only have to go through the two doors instead of three, but it still helps.) Buying an inexpensive mirror or two or three to place in the kitchen may also help. Then you will know that you will be watching you. Remember, you usually do stuff when you think you do not watch!

Now for that other thing – TV is a window, as far as the human animal is concerned. There is plenty of evidence that people who don’t have TV, and specifically people who don’t watch soap opera, are more satisfied with their current spouse, if any. This is because even though you, the rational you, know that the pretty women and rich and powerful men on TV are not your actual neighbors, your subconscious is still absolutely convinced that they are and you have drawn the short straw in the spouse lottery. (You have also drawn the short straw in the self lottery, but evidently we are a bit more forgiving about that.)

You don’t really need me to go on to tell you about porn, glamour magazines etc, do you? We know how this works by now. None of this stuff was around in the stone age. Seeing is believing. Seeing constantly is believing that it is available, achievable. Oh, that goes for the chocolate cakes and stuff in women’s magazines too. The more you look at them to desire them, the more ready you will be to engage in fateful behavior in real life. Just saying.

Really, you know this just as well as I do, once you start thinking about it. Go on, think, if you will.  I am not the master of you. The question is, who is? Are you?